A large school district in New Jersey has approved a student protection plan by hiring off-duty police and then retired officers to patrol inside school buildings. The guards will be armed and present through at least the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.
The measure was unanimously passed last week in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 21 people, including 19 children.
The letter of intent details that an off-duty police officer will be placed at each of the district’s 16 schools through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. The assigned officers will carry guns and will be paid “at a rate of $50 per hour.”
“The collaboration between the Middletown police and our school district is instrumental in maintaining a secure school environment,” said school superintendent Mary Walker last week, according to NJ.com. “We value the support they provide on a daily basis to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors, as well as their expertise as we continually evaluate our security procedures and practices.”
Middletown Mayor Tony Perry said on Twitter that the move to put armed cops in schools is long overdue.
“I tried to do this my first year as mayor but unfortunately the BOE at the time did not want police with weapons in the schools,” Perry wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Middletown School District parent Jocelyn Gottschalk joined “Fox & Friends First” and said “It gives me more peace of mind. I’m not still not 100% confident… that things are going to be smooth, but it gives me enough confidence that I feel comfortable sending my kids to school now.”
Gottschalk, who is a mother of three, said she has not met anyone who disagrees with the new policy as the nationwide debate surrounding school safety continues.
“I feel like this is a subject that everyone is on board with,” Gottschalk said. “I have yet to come into contact with someone from Middletown at the softball fields or the hockey rink that doesn’t agree with this policy.”
“I think every parent thinks that this should be done,” she continued.
“We have security at sporting events, concerts, and we send our kids to school with no security after all of these things happening,” Gottchalk said. “You think they would jump up, step in and… make the right decision for the safety of our kids.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, but I hope that this is a step forward and maybe other towns and boards will get involved and do the same,” she continued.
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