As part of the ongoing efforts to make our schools safer, the City of Linden and the Board of Education jointly announced plans to hire retired law enforcement officers to provide security in the city’s schools.
Under a shared services agreement adopted by the City Council and Board of Education last month, the Police Department will establish a Special Law Enforcement Officer (S.L.E.O.) Class III program consisting of four retired police officers to provide security in our largest schools.
The City Council approved the agreement on Tuesday, Oct. 16; the Board of Education approved the agreement on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
The Board of Education has been discussing the possibility of hiring retired officers since a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., left 17 students and staff members dead earlier this year.
“Nothing is more sacred to us than the safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent of Schools Danny A. Robertozzi said. “We have come a long way in increasing the security of our schools, including upgraded security cameras, new procedures for visitors, and security vestibules. We have an outstanding relationship with the Linden Police Department and City of Linden, so this is the natural next step in making sure our schools offer a safe and welcoming learning environment.”
Linden High School already has a full-time school resource officer on site who is part of the Police Department’s Juvenile Bureau. The added Class III officers would be stationed in the high school’s Academy of Science and Technology, Soehl Middle School, McManus Middle School, and School No. 2, the city’s largest elementary school, Robertozzi said.
Mayor Derek Armstead said, “As a parent with 3 children in the district, safety is always a concern. As the Mayor of this city it is my responsibility to provide adequate protection to all of the residents and the protection of our students and children are paramount. The recent concerns and discussion about Election Day safety are also more easily addressed with the hiring of these additional officers who can be utilized on election days at the schools.”
Linden Police Chief David Hart praised Mayor Armstead, Dr. Robertozzi, and the elected members of the City Council and Board of Education for their commitment to the program. “It took a lot of time and effort to get this done right, and it would not have been possible without their patience and continued commitment,” he said.
Robertozzi said he anticipates completing the hiring process and having the new officers in place by Jan 1.
“Most importantly, we have to find the right people for the job,” he said. “People who have the experience and temperament to work with children. I’d like to thank the Board of Education, Mayor Derek Armstead and the City Council for supporting the plan.”
He said that if the arrangement works out, he may ask the Board of Education to hire additional officers in the future until there is one in each school.
The positions are open only to retired law enforcement officers. Applications and more details can be found at: http://www.linden-nj.org/Notices/View?id=140
New Jersey established the Class III Special Law Enforcement Officer position in 2016. Only retired law enforcement officers are eligible for the position, which authorizes them, on a part-time basis, to provide security while on school or college premises during hours when the school or college is normally in session or when occupied by students or their teachers or professors. These officers operate under the authority of the local chief of police, and while they have the same authority and duties as regular, full-time police officers while providing school security, they cannot replace regular law enforcement officers or school resource officers currently employed in schools.