Author: PoliceOne Members
By News Staff
TRENTON, NJ — Lifting previous limitations, a new state law will let most retired law enforcement officers, including COs, become armed school officers.
According to NJ.com, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Monday that will allow retired New Jersey transit cops, corrections officers and others to become part-time school officers under the direction of local police chiefs.
The decision comes amid a push for armed school security following the Parkland mass shooting last year.
“They are job-tested and proven in high-pressure situations,” said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris, a sponsor of the bill. “Their presence in schools will make the halls, cafeterias and playgrounds safer.”
While some support this new law, others expressed concern about how well COs can transition from prisons to schools.
Although he supports the plan, retired police chief Christopher Wagner is among those worried about how COs would transition from working with hardened criminals to kids.
“I am not ecstatic,” he said before the law was passed. “We have worked really hard with the public to say we don’t want our schools to be a prison.”
But, supporters believe that COs are not much different from local police. They already deploy as police officers for large-scale events and have full arrest power in the state.
School districts can already hire anyone to be an armed school officer as long as they have a license to carry a gun and hold an Armed Security Officer credential. Private security comes cheap, but they aren’t actual police officers and have no law enforcement authority or radio communication with local police. School resource officers are recommended, but they can cost more than $100,000 a year with additional benefits.
The retired officers will work part-time with no benefits, working exclusively with schools.