TRENTON, N.J. – Retired police officers with requisite training may be hired to provide security for public and private schools and community colleges in New Jersey under a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie reported NJ.com.
Gov. Christie vetoed an earlier version because it did not require “specialized training covering security issues that routinely arise in the school setting.”
“It is vital to ensure that the officer is integrated into the unique setting of a school community and is properly trained to function not only as a safety expert and law enforcer, but also as a liaison to community resources, educators and counselors,” Christie said in that conditional veto message.
Changes were made to the bill (S86), which was approved by the state Senate in October and by the Assembly Nov. 21.
“Having trained, experienced officers in schools creates a safer environment for students and staff by deterring criminals from committing acts of violence,” state Sen. Anthony Bucco said, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I’m happy we could work together on this issue and make our schools safer for everyone.”
The bill was first introduced after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut four years ago.
These armed “class III special officers” must be under 65 years old and undergo the required training, according to the bill. They may work no more than 20 hours a week, and are not entitled to health or pension benefits for their service.
They would not replace school resource officers, who are specially trained full-time police officers stationed at some schools.
The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police sought after the legislation. North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti, the association’s president, thanked the governor and lawmakers for getting the law passed according to NJ.com.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children,” said Parenti in a statement, “and we strongly believe that this law gives our state an important new tool in providing a safer environment for our school kids, our teachers, and everyone else who works at or visits schools and community colleges in our state.”