Middletown School Board votes to hire retired police officers to protect schools
The Middletown Board of Education is the latest district in the state to move toward hiring retired law enforcement officers to protect students and teachers. The special officers will replace off duty police officers starting in September.
“Whatever keeps the kids safe, I’m all for it,” says Stephanie DeBari. “I 100% feel safer with them here.”
The move comes in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas last week where 19 students and two teachers were killed.
Parents like DeBari responded positively to Middletown’s announcement.
“It does make me feel safer. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and I honestly can't imagine what those parents are feeling,” she says.
“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,” says Jocelyn Gottschalk.
Currently at schools like High School North, security is provided by off duty officers who are paid $50 per hour. The Class 3 officers starting in September will make $35 per hour.
“It takes less time than waiting for someone to get here to help, so yeah, I'm happy they're going to be here,” says Linda Barth.
But parents and grandparents like Barth want other issues addressed, such as securing doors or creating pass keys for people entering and exiting school buildings.
“It's unfortunate but if someone really wants to go into a school to do harm, they're going to find a way,” Barth says.
The recent mass shootings this year have many New Jersey residents on edge.
“I'm nervous myself going to grocery stores these days, so I'm definitely not comfortable sending my kids to school,” says Gottschalk.
At least one officer will be assigned to each of Middletown's 16 schools. The vote by the Board of Education was unanimous.