LODI, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Lodi officials have approved a plan to allow armed retired police officers to guard the borough’s five elementary schools.
The borough estimates it will set aside $200,000 to pay the total salary costs for the five retired police offices — one for each school, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported Friday.
Many residents support the measure, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
“I think it’s a great idea, they need protection,” one longtime Lodi resident said.
“I didn’t want to send them to school but we have to live our lives and go on,” parent Tracey Jordan told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer.
For parents like Jordan, rattled after the Sandy Hook shooting, the presence of armed security in her children’s schools is welcomed.
“Putting in cops in there I think is wonderful [that] they’re gonna do that,” Jordan said.
However, others believe having armed guards in schools will make the establishments feel like prison camps.
“It’s an overreaction, it’s a shame what happened but I think we just need to think about it a little bit more before we put armed guards in the school,” one woman said. “Schools should be secure, but I think armed guards in the school is taking it too far. I just think that’s sending a bad message to the kids.”
Some parents in other towns told CBS 2’s Gainer they are hoping this stepped-up security trend catches on, but others said they aren’t sold on the idea.
“It’s down to the parents. The lack of communication with the parents is what causes accidents, like that a lot of parents are not involved with their kids,” Garfield resident Jerry Lozada said.
“We pay a lot of money in taxes in this town and for us to pump out another couple of dollars for retired cops … if they’re gonna pay retired cops, may as well pay real cops,” resident Axel Zeno added.
The Lodi plan doesn’t include the middle or high schools because they already have school resource officers patrolling inside.
“Right after the shootings we had some police officers in front of our school and that was great, but it stopped after a month, you know, so it’d be nice if it were permanent,” Carlstadt resident Meadow Tallakson said.
Other districts in New Jersey have also placed armed guards in schools. In January, uniformed officers were put in place in all nine schools in the Marlboro district. Belleville followed suit. Last week North Brunswick voted to do the same. However, North Brunswick officials remain undecided if they will arm the ones at their schools next year, CBS 2’s Gainer reported.
Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls also proposed arming its principal who is a retired police officer.
Governor Chris Christie has spoken out against the policy.
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