New Law Allows Retired Officers to Work in Schools

Jul 19, 2017

Barnegat Township is taking advantage of a new state provision in which retired law enforcement personnel can work in public schools as Class III officers. An ordinance introduced by the township committee July 11 authorizes the move.

A bill that was signed into law by Gov. Christie late last year establishes “Class III” special police officers designated to provide security at both public and private schools. Committeeman John Novak, who is liaison to the police department, said they would not replace school resource officers, who are specially trained full-time police officers stationed at some schools to operate DARE and other similar programs. 

“But with this new class of officers, we can hire them, and the officer who used to work the security detail would be able to go back on the road,” said Novak. “And we save a lot on costs.”

Police Lt. Keith Germain said the department is looking to hire two Class III officers to work at the high school. He said they would work seven hours a day, five days a week.

“They would make $20 an hour,” said Germain. “So at the high school, we’ll have twice as many officers at one-third the cost.”

The bill, drafted in the wake of the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., said the officers would work during regular school hours, and their jurisdiction would be limited to school grounds.

“You’re not paying the pension benefits and all the other benefits that are necessary to put a police officer full time,” said Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), the bill’s primary sponsor. “Someone that has 20 or 25 years’ law enforcement experience has gone through the training with their firearms; they have all of the knowledge and qualifications.”

Germain said the designation would be open to retired officers younger than 65 who left a police department in good standing. They would be required to meet the same firearm qualifications as active-duty police officers.

The legislation was sought by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti, the association’s president, thanked the governor and lawmakers for getting the law passed.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and we strongly believe that this law gives our state an important new tool in providing a safer environment for our school kids, our teachers, and everyone else who works at or visits schools and community colleges in our state,” Parenti said in a statement at the time the bill was signed into law.

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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