Armed Guards to Patrol Barnegat Schools

Aug 29, 2018

As part of a plan to upgrade security measures, the Barnegat Township School District has hired five armed guards with each to be stationed in its four elementary schools and middle school beginning in September. District Superintendent Brian Latwis said the guards are full-time employees and will earn $30,000 annually, but receive no benefits.

“The armed guards are all highly trained, highly skilled retired law enforcement officers,” he said. “The interview process was extensive and rigorous and featured an interview panel consisting of myself, administration, security supervisor as well as Barnegat Police Department.”

Latwis said the high school has its own school resource officer provided by the police department. He said that prior to this move, the elementary schools and middle school had little law enforcement presence.

“During the day, an officer might stop by,” he said. “But now they will be there full time. It’s sad that it has come down to this, but these are the times we live in, and we have to take these precautions.”

Police Chief Keith Germain noted that in late 2016, then-Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that created Class III officers, who could work school security.

“But according to that provision, those officers would have to have been retired within just the last three years to be eligible to work,” he said. “If you had a solid candidate who had been retired for five years, you couldn’t hire him. That limits the pool, so I think Barnegat did the right move.”

Latwis said that in addition, students and staff will be trained in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) during the upcoming school year. He said ALICE is a research-based standard operating procedure that trains school staff and students on best practices in the event of an active shooter or similar crisis.

“School safety expands beyond security measures,” he said. “As a district we are also focusing on improving our HIB (harassment, intimidation and bullying) protocols as well as the social and emotional supports in place for students. Our schools look to establish positive cultures that highlight being an upstander, identify and promote good character, and foster pride across our school community.” 

— Eric Englund

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