Union: Jersey City School District Ran Secret Security Preparedness Drill
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — They came to school packing guns but parents, security guards and students had no idea who they were.
Security Guards at one elementary school in Jersey City said it could have been a tense situation. They told their union that on Sept. 12 a man with a gun tried to get into the school.
“He came into the building. He had the firearm visible on his side. The security officer had to isolate him and told him he couldn’t get into the building,” union representative Steven Tully told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan on Wednesday.
It turns out the man was a member of a security firm called Strike Force of New Jersey and was hired by the district to assess security at the school and several others, including Lincoln High School.
The problem was the regular security guards at the schools, who do not carry weapons, didn’t know.
Neither did parents.
“I think we should have been informed before that,” parent Larry Rosario said. “Not every one of us is calm about things.”
“This could have turned out to be something much worse … I mean, again, you see somebody in the building with a firearm … there could have been a number of things that could have happened,” Tully added.
A district spokesperson said the purpose of the exercise was to pinpoint gaps in security and that is why there was a level of secrecy.
In a statement, the superintendent said: “The district did not want or expect staff to prep for these visits” in order to assess “security readiness.”
However, she said the director of security and key people at the schools were told and that Strike Force members had temporary district badges, shirts and came to the schools in district cars.
The union representing the security guards said that was not the case.
“They didn’t identify themselves and did not have identification on them,” Tully said.
The district sent a letter to parents after the fact, apologizing for any alarm it may have caused.
However, some parents said it’s too late.
When asked if parents should have notified, one told Sloan, “Definitely.”
District officials said Strike Force members have learned much about securing their buildings in the wake of school tragedies nationwide, including locking doors and getting additional cameras and staff.
Strike Force did not immediately return calls from CBS 2. The district said the analysis cost them $26,000 and that Strike Force members will be back.
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