The New Jersey School Boards Association thanked Governor Christie and the state Legislature for recently enacting a bill that will expand local school district options in employing security personnel.
Signed by Gov. Christie on Nov. 30, 2016, the legislation, S86/A3629, establishes “Class Three” special law enforcement officers to provide security in public and non-public schools and county colleges on a part-time basis. The legislation reflects a recommendation of the New Jersey School Boards Association’s School Security Task Force, which for over a year studied issues of school safety and security, including the relationship between law enforcement and the public schools.
“The legislation gives school boards the option of employing qualified, experienced retired law enforcement officers to enhance school security and contribute to the educational program,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “The training required by the act will ensure that the Class Three officers not only provide a security presence, but are able to work effectively with students.”
Under the legislation, Class III officers will undergo the same training as school resource officers (SROs), who are active members of the local police force who serve schools in a security, counseling and instructional capacity.
“Placing security personnel in schools is a decision that appropriately rests with the local board of education,” Feinsod continued. “NJSBA’s School Security Task Force found that, because of their specialized training and educational function, school resource officers represent the preferred option for school security personnel.
“However, employment of SROs can be difficult for many school boards to fund. This new legislation will provide a needed, lower-cost option for school boards that cannot employ school resource officers or that want to expand security staff to assist current SROs.”
An earlier version of S-86/A-3629, which received final legislative approval in June, did not require specialized training for the officers. In September, Gov. Christie conditionally vetoed the measure, returning it to the Legislature with a recommendation to incorporate the SRO training requirement for the Class Three officers. NJSBA had advocated for inclusion of such training in the bill with the governor and legislative leadership.
Under S-86/A-3629, Class Three special law enforcement officers will be required to:
- Be retired police officers less than 65 years old;
- Have served as duly qualified, fully-trained, full-time municipal or county police officers, or as members of the state police;
- Be separated from that prior service in good standing within three years of appointment as a Class Three SLEO (or within five years during the first year following the bill’s enactment);
- Be physically capable of performing the functions of the position;
- Possess N.J. Police Training Commission Basic Police Officer Certification or N.J. State Police Academy Certification;
- Complete the training course for safe schools resource officers (SROs); and
- Be hired in a part-time capacity.
The legislation takes effect June 1, 2017.