NJ school district employs retired cops to protect schools, parent says all ‘agree’ with policy

(Source: Fox News)

Instead of engaging in various forms of politicized or theoretical rhetoric about gun control in the aftermath of the horrific Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, a New Jersey school board is taking a practical and proactive measure: It is hiring retired cops to permanently provide security at all 16 educational facilities in the district.

A mom of three from Middletown, N.J., where the procedure is going into effect when school reopens in September, says the decision has broad support among parents. In the meantime, armed, off-duty Middletown police officers are patrolling the schools.

“I feel like this is a subject that everyone is on board with,” Jocelyn Gottschalk said about new policy.

“I have yet to come into contact with someone from Middletown at the softball fields or the hockey rink that doesn’t agree with this policy…I think every parent thinks that this should be done,” Gottschalk told “Fox & Friends First” co-host Todd Piro on Wednesday morning.

In response to a question from Piro, Gottschalk agreed that the federal government should also be more proactive in this context. “We have security at sporting events, concerts, and we send our kids to school with no security after all of these things happening. You’d think they would jump up, step in, and make the right decision for the safety of our kids. It just doesn’t make sense to me, but I hope that this is a step forward and maybe other towns and boards will get involved and do the same.”

Gottschalk went to say that her kids “love seeing the police in school. It makes them feel safe I think. I think it will teach kids maybe to respect authority a little bit more — seeing them and knowing that they’re there to help you. And I just, I think in general it just makes everyone feel safer. You know, my three kids, speaking for them, I know they like the idea of having them in school.”

Piro punctuated the discussion that respect for authority among the student population could be an additional positive byproduct of this BOE’s decision. “But to your earlier point, let’s hope the federal government wakes up and makes this the rule, not the exception,” he concluded.

In most jurisdictions, cops can cash out with a full pension after 20 or 25 years on the job while many are still in their prime, and may still have their own children in local schools. Thus, there likely should be plenty of public-spirited Class III special law enforcement officers, as state law classifies the ex-cops, in the Middletown area who want to protect kids.

According to the Middletown Patch, “Middletown Mayor Tony Perry, a Republican, said he first proposed putting armed police officers in all public schools when he first took office in 2019,” but the board was not receptive to the idea of armed guards.

Middletown Board of Education President Frank Capone “said [Democrat] Gov. Phil Murphy and the state teachers’ union should be reimbursing schools for the cost of having armed officers in schools,” the Patch added. “If we can protect the governor and state house officials, we should protect the children and the staff that we all cherish and love dearly.”

The Jersey Shore-area town plans to pay the school protectors out of the police budget at a modest rate of $35/hour, subject to reimbursement from the school district. That hourly rate is less than the $50 per hour that off-duty cops currently get for providing Middletown school security, which, in turn, is far less than they get on overtime details. The hiring process is set to commence in the next few weeks.

“A law signed by former Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 allows schools in New Jersey to hire retired officers at hourly rates to work as security agents. The retired officers must be younger than 65 and carry the same authority as full-time officers, meaning they can carry guns,” the Asbury Park Press recalled. The retirees must also undergo additional training in school security techniques.

Middletown has the “largest kindergarten through 12th-grade district in Monmouth County with more than 9,200 students,” NJ.com reported. Cops in the town have increased in the presence of officers in the vicinity of schools after the ghastly Uvalde massacre.

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