MARLBORO, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Students in one New Jersey school district started the new year Wednesday with armed guards at their schools.
The Marlboro Board of Education in Monmouth County voted last month to have an uniformed officer in all of its nine schools following the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Mayor Jonathan Hornik acknowledged that its a drastic step, but said those who criticize him for opening school campuses to guns aren’t seeing the full picture.
“We’re not bringing guns into schools. We’re bringing our police officers into school that happen to carry guns. These are the same guys we call if there’s an emergency,” Hornik told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
According to the district’s website, Marlboro police officers will “challenge each person entering the schools from the time the buses arrive until the students leave.”
The district said there will also be “a monitor for use by the assigned police officer in each school that will continually project digital images of both interior and exterior spaces critical to maintaining the safety and security of the school.”
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The district already has armed police officers in some of its schools. The high school has a full-time officer armed with a gun.
Even so, the decision to place armed guards in all of the district’s schools is controversial. Some parents said it makes them and their kids feel safer.
“I think it is a great idea with the way the world is right now,” said resident Theresa Morreale. “Anything to keep our children safe.”
“I don’t see it as bringing a gun into the school, I see it as bringing security into the school,” one parent said. “Instead of a gun-free campus I would like a death-free campus.”
“I’m definitely in favor. I think it’s a good thing. Keep the kids safe,” one parent told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
Others worry bringing weapons onto campus is in effect crossing a line that can’t be uncrossed.
“I really don’t think it is necessary to have guns in school,” said resident James Dottrina. “People living in fear, that is not how we are supposed to live here in America.”
“Personally, I don’t think you fight guns with guns. I’m very sad to hear that’s where we’re heading,” said another.
“I think it’s a bad indication of where we’re headed as a country that this has to happen,” Michael Messinger told CBS 2’s Brown. “I think we’re gonna have to live with this for the rest of our lives, unfortunately.”
School leaders announced the decision one day before the National Rifle Association publicly called for armed guards in schools across America.
“My first choice would be to never have a gun in our schools, but while the president and the NRA and Congress debate policy and law, the fact is there are guns out there and how many times do we have to see these kinds of mass shootings before we decide to protect our kids?” Mayor Hornik said.
“We all learned from the Newtown tragedy that security is not adequate, so you can either sit there and hope something doesn’t happen in your town or you can take action,” Hornik added.
Officials said the heavy security will be in place on a temporary basis as the district continues to discuss further security improvements.
Governor Chris Christie has spoken out against the policy saying it could lead to school campuses feeling more like armed camps.
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