EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Due to last week’s tragedy in Florida, a New Jersey school district is taking security measures to new levels.
East Brunswick announced last week they’re adding armed police officers to all of their schools. For two years, the Board of Education has been working with local police on a plan.
On Thursday, the BOE voted unanimously to put armed officers in all 11 of its elementary and high schools.
“As a parent I’m saddened that we are here, but I will feel much better knowing what the first line of defense looks like in our schools and I hope we will never have to use it,” BOE President Todd Simmens told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
The active duty officers will beef up the 71 unarmed retired officers who currently patrol the district.
While security isn’t new in New Jersey schools, seeing officers with guns in their hallways is something many students say will take getting used to.
“We’re trying to protest having guns around schools and having guns around children but that’s just bringing more guns to them but at the same time… whatever we have to do to protect us,” Esmeralda Alvarado said.
Students can expect to see the armed guards outside their classrooms starting in the next two weeks, but authorities can’t give away details on just how many there will be or exactly where they’ll be stationed for security reasons.
“They’ll know where all the doors are where the students and staff enter and exit, and where we would deploy students and meet parents if we actually had them evacuate,” Superintendent Victor Valeski said.
Authorities say they won’t be hiring new officers. Instead, active duty police will pick up overtime shifts paid for by the East Brunswick BOE. It could add around $430,000 per year on top of the $1.7 million current school security budget.
Officials say it’s the cost of keeping students safe. Meanwhile, the school board says it’s already received calls from other districts in the state curious about the plan.