As reported by N.J.com, a bill creating a new class of police officer — and stationing armed, retired cops inside New Jersey schools — passed the New Jersey State Senate on Thursday after lawmakers adopted an amendment recommended by Governor Christie.
The measure (S2983), which was unanimously approved, establishes “Class Three” special police officers designated to provide security at both public and private schools.
First proposed in the wake of the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the measure passed both houses of the Legislature in June. But it was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, who requested that it come with a requirement that Class Three officers undergo school resource officer training.
The Class Three designation would be open to retired officers under the age of 65 who retired from a police department in good standing. The newly hired Class Three officers would be required to meet the same firearm qualifications as active-duty police officers.
In accordance with the legislation, Class Three officers would work during regular school hours and their jurisdiction would be limited to school grounds. They also would not be eligible for the same benefits as regular police officers.
This measure raises important questions concerning the fate and positions of those police officers currently assigned to schools across the State of New Jersey. Several school districts across the State already have active rank and file police officers patrolling the hallways of schools, providing security services to the schools and serving as school resource officers during regular school hours. Based on the foregoing, there are obvious pros and cons associated with the newly passed bill. While the measure clearly benefits those newly retired officers looking to supplement their pensions, it remains to be seen whether it could potentially cut into those jobs assigned to police officers that are part of the municipality’s permanent force and still working toward retirement. We will follow the track of this bill closely and keep our readers informed.