Fort Lee looks to hire retired armed officers to guard schools

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FORT LEE -

Fort Lee officials are looking into the possibility of hiring retired police officers to be armed guards inside of the borough’s schools.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich says that he is looking to do everything in his power to protect the children in the borough.

“You serve as mayor, you’re effectively the father of 45,000 people,” he says.

Sokolich says that by the start of the new school year in September, five of the district’s schools will have three retired police officers patrolling the halls.

“These aren’t just officers that walk around with a gun and people feel like they’re in this military state,” the mayor says. “They are going to serve as a deterrent to make sure that the ultimate, ultimate disaster doesn’t occur.”

Borough officials say that they first started contemplating this plan last year. Sokolich says that the guards will be fully trained, fully armed and ready to go in a moment’s notice should an active shooter show up on campus.

“We are abound with cameras. We have security guards in all of our schools,” Sokolich says. “We do believe in Fort Lee we have it covered, but as an abundance of caution we thought the class-three hiring makes sense."

The job requires applicants to be retired no longer than three years and not be older than 65. The budget for the officers is a collective $180,000 a year. The guards will be employed by the Fort Lee Police Department.

Parents and residents in town say that they think that the proposal is a good idea.

“Any extra security, in my book to keep the kids safe, is great,” says mother Denise Lebrun.

Hillsdale, Woodland Park and Northern Valley Regional school districts have had officers inside schools since the beginning of the year.

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