Legislation introduced in New Jersey will allow retired police officers working as school security guards in New Jersey to now carry firearms.
Previously, retired officers hired for school security were not permitted to carry guns, since they were employed by the district and not the local police department. Alternately, some districts use Class Two Special Law Enforcement Officers for security. Although these officers are employed by the local police departments and can legally carry weapons, they have received less training than regular police officers and have limited authority.
The bill establishes a new class of special law enforcement officers, which covers retired officers working as school security guards. The legislation states that officers who fall under the new category, Class Three, are authorized to “exercise full powers and duties similar to those of a permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer” while working part-time at a community college, public or nonpublic school. The law was signed by Gov. Chris Christie last week.
To fall under this new classification, retired officers must meet specific physical and mental qualifications. Class Three officers must be less than 65-years-old and must have previously served as a fully-trained, full-time officer in the state, retiring in good standing. They must also be hired for security on a part-time basis and complete training.
The law further designates that Class Three officers are authorized to exercise full powers and duties during normal school hours and when the school is occupied by students, teachers or professors.
According to a news release by New Jersey Assembly Republicans who sponsored the bill, “These officers will not replace regular law enforcement officers or school resource officers currently employed in schools.”
One of the bill’s sponsors is Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen). In the release, Schepisi said that she supported the bill because today’s students are “vulnerable to attack just sitting in a classroom. “Giving schools the option to hire retired police officers to protect students, teachers and staff is not only logical, it's cost effective as well. These officers are already well trained and the cost to taxpayers will be minimal,” Schepisi said.