SCHOOL-SECURITY TASK FORCE’S REPORT RECOMMENDS MEASURES TO BOLSTER SAFETY

1While calling for giving staff and students ID and access cards, panel hedges on armed personnel and silent ‘panic alarms’.

Two years after it was formed, the Christie administration’s task force on school security has issued a 59-page report with 42 recommendations for making the state’s public schools safer.

Many of the recommendations were predictable or even redundant in the context of existing laws and guidelines, including calls for better coordination with law enforcement, better communication during emergencies, and better (and smarter) design of new school buildings.

School security staffing
The big question facing the task force, which was formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut, was whether New Jersey schools should start having armed security in every building to prevent similar tragedies.

The task force said yes — and maybe.

On one hand, the group recommended that schools to work with law enforcement to “develop strategies for the placement” of police school resource officers (SROs) in all school buildings. And it offered some guidance for arming other security personnel.

But the report stopped short of recommending that the state require armed security personnel, saying the cost and implementation would be different for each community and should be considered locally.

Bottom line: the report said local districts should make the call, but encouraged the practice. “Provided that carefully selected and appropriately trained personnel are assigned to protect the safety and security of school personnel and property, the concept has merit, and there is an increasing sense among law enforcement and educators that SROs are effective in protecting people and property,” the report read.

Panic alarms
Since Sandy Hook, the closest that New Jersey has gotten to significant changes in state policy has been with use of “panic alarms” in schools, which would essentially alert police to an emergency with the punch of a button.

With overwhelming majorities, the state Legislature has passed legislation to require such silent alarms, including emergency lights outside school buildings.

But several of the suggestions were noteworthy, both for what they did and did not recommend that the state to require of its schools. Here are three of those recommendations:

But so far Gov. Chris Christie has twice vetoed those bills on the grounds that the task force would be reviewing the idea.

Source: NJ Spotlight