N.J. school board votes to hire retired cops to protect schools

School administrators say the officers will keep students safer and improve security measures

By Suzie Ziegler 

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — The Board of Education in Middletown, New Jersey, has voted to hire retired police officers to protect schools, thereby replacing the current security provided by off-duty officers, News 12 reported on Thursday. 

The new Class III special officers will carry duty weapons and are set to start work in September, according to the report. At least one officer will be assigned to each of the district’s 16 schools. The officers must have retired within the last three years and be younger than 65, NJ.com reported. 

School administrators say the new officers will help keep students safer. 

“The collaboration between the Middletown police and our school district is instrumental in maintaining a secure school environment,” said school superintendent Mary Walker last week, according to NJ.com. “We value the support they provide on a daily basis to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors, as well as their expertise as we continually evaluate our security procedures and practices.” 

The vote comes about two weeks since a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Police in Uvalde determined that a school door did not lock properly before the gunman entered the school. 

Parents voiced support for the change. 

“I think it's a great idea. I think we need it. It will make me a lot more comfortable sending my kids to school,” Jocelyn Gottschalk told News 12. 

Deputy Chief Paul Bailey said the new officers will enhance security measures in Middletown schools. 

“The schools already have excellent security measures,” Bailey told NJ.com. “It’s always been a high priority and now we’ll have a permanent presence in place.” 

NEXT: Our first line of defense: Training and recruiting school resource officers

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