Education

Special Police Officers Coming to Fair Lawn Middle Schools

FAIR LAWN - The Borough Council has approved the concept of retired police officers permanently stationed at each middle school.

On June 13, the council approved by consensus to hire Special 3 Police Officers to posts in TJ and Memorial Middle Schools for September 2017.

"Since 2014, there have been 535 calls to the middle schools," Police Chief Glen Cauwels said. "There were 97 call of service during that time."

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Most of the calls, 435, were a walk-through, not for a particular reason.

But whether there are routine walk-throughs or calls of service, theft, suspicious activity or a juvenile call, they take up man-hours for the department.

From calls for gun violence to strangers roaming the halls, Chief Cauwels said the special officers make safety and financial sense.

The first year would cost $120,000, which would be split evenly between the Board of Education and the municipality. The cost includes uniforms, equipment and an older car for use by the officer, but not equipped the same as a current official police street vehicle, thus reducing the cost.

The second year is projected at $90,000. The negotiated split between the board and the municipality has yet to be determined.

"I've spoken to a lot of chiefs and they're going to try this," Cauwels said.

The high school currently has an officer stationed in the school and has for many years but the designation is different, although all officers have the same training.

The special officer must be a retired police officer below the age of 65 and is paid on an hourly basis, according to the chief. If school is off, the special officer does not work and is not paid. The hours do not contribute to the officer's pension, by law.

The borough manager said he intends to have a first reading of the ordinance on July 18.

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