Trenton – In a move to better protect students, the Senate Education Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. to establish the School Safety and Security Task Force.
“In recent years, this country has witnessed a detrimental growth of gun violence within our schools. The fatal shooting at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St Louis this week must be where this tragedy ends,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This task force will provide us with critical information to determine the most effective means of protecting our children and grandchildren. We will not accept the frequent occurrence of school shootings as our new reality, and this legislation will equip us with the knowledge to combat this growing epidemic.”
Under the bill, S-3079, the task force would consist of 15 members, including designees from the Department of Education, the Department of Homeland Security, and the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. The bill would direct the task force to identify potential breaches of security in public schools, and make recommendations to improve school safety and security. In addition, the task force would consider strategies to ensure the needs of students with disabilities are reflected in all areas of emergency planning and response measures.
The issues studied by the task force would include improving response times to emergency situations, the effectiveness of installing panic alarms in school buildings to alert local law enforcement authorities to emergency situations, and scheduling periodic patrols of school buildings and grounds by local law enforcement officers. In addition, the task force would be instructed to review and develop recommendations on building security and assessment standards for existing school facilities and new construction.
The bill was released from committee with a vote of 5-0.