Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada is recommending that the county school superintendent seek funding from the State of New Jersey to place an armed security guard in the county’s schools in the aftermath of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed more than 20 people.
According to a statement read by Commissioner Chris Carney at the June 8 Sussex County Commissioners meeting, student safety should be everyone’s top priority, but his office does not have the staff to place an officer in each school as a deterrent to stopping an active shooter incident.
However, the sheriff’s office does assist school districts with active shooter drills.
“One of the many benefits of assisting schools with these drills is the fact that our officers get a visual layout of the school, should an incident occur within one of these schools,” Strada wrote in the statement. “Our response time will be quicker since we are familiar with the layout.”
Additionally, the county’s 911 Communication’s Center has the ability to monitor security cameras inside some of the schools, which can allow dispatchers to direct responding officers to the appropriate location in a school during an incident.
The sheriff’s office, along with state police, has increased police presence at the schools.
“If anyone walks into a school with a gun, they should not walk out of that school,” Carney said.
Carney had a meeting planned for last week with Executive County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Carrick and will work with Strada and local legislators.
“We will try to get some funding because our funding has been cut $8 million from our school budgets,” Carney said. “Hopefully [Gov. Phil Murphy] will see that keeping our kids safe is a priority.”