WARREN, NJ -  Did you notice police cars at Watchung Hills on Sunday? Warren Township Police and Green Brook Township Police participated in  training exercises at Watchung Hills Regional High School on Sunday.  It was the first of two training sessions scheduled earlier this year as a part of ongoing training and collaboration between the police of all four sending districts and the administration at the school. 
 
“We’ve been conducting this type of training for several years with agencies that send students to Watchung Hills Regional as well as with just our officers in our local elementary and middle schools,” said Warren Township Chief of Police William Keane. “I feel it is important to be as best prepared as possible for an active shooter(s) incident and I have the utmost confidence that my officers will do what is necessary to ensure the safety of our students and teachers.”
 
"Though sadly we live in times where we have to prepare for any possibility related to school security, I am glad to say officers from Green Brook and Warren have been training diligently in responding to potential scenarios and are proactively involved with patrolling our schools and maintaining a dialogue with both staff and students to hear any concerns,” said Green Brook Police Chief G. Christopher Kurz. "Our officers are trained to respond and take action immediately, whether in Green Brook or assisting neighboring towns. The safety of our schools and children is a top priority for our department".
 
 

Warren Sgt. Dan Gleeson and Officer Bryan Horst  are also members of Somerset County SWAT and led the exercises on Sunday.

“We are two, maybe three minutes away, “ Gleeson said. “All of  our officers are trained to enter the building . There’s no longer a mandate to try to negotiate with an active shooter. The mandate is to do what’s necessary to neutralize him to prevent further injuries and deaths.”

 

In the event of an emergency at the school, the Watchung Hills  Board of Education at it’s last meeting approved a Memorandum of Understanding for live streaming between education and law enforcement.
 
“During my entire time as superintendent of Watchung Hills, our local law enforcement has been committed to working with the district to ensure a safe and secure environment for our learning community,” said WHRHS Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett.  “Having the opportunity to observe a portion of Sunday's training exercises at the high school reinforced the seriousness with which they approach their lifelong learning in order to protect our students and staff.”

 

The Warren Township Police Department, in cooperation with Watchung Hills Regional High School, is “committed to providing the high school with a safe learning environment” and has had a full time uniformed School Resource Officer (SRO) in the high school while classes are in session since 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

The SRO serves as a counselor, role model, and advocate for students, families, faculty, and staff. The SRO is a recognized and approachable resource for students and faculty during and after school, at school events and when needed at the Warren Township public schools.

SRO Ofc. Joseph Casorio can be contacted at 908-753-1000 x414 or 908-647-4800 x4807 or via email at jcasorio@warrenpolice.com

Casorio tweeted on Saturday, “Warren Police will be conducting training exercises at Watchung Hills Reg. HS tomorrow (March 4) and next Sunday March 11. If you see multiple police cars at the school, don’t be alarmed.”

The WHRHS Director of Security and Student Safety Chris Shea sent a letter alerting parents and students on Thursday, Mar. 1 included in the Warrior Weekly. Shea also informed parents and students of new drop off protocols to take effect on Monday, Mar. 5.

Goals of the SRO program are to:

  • Create and maintain a safe, secure, and orderly learning environment for students, parents, and teachers
  • Bridge the gap between law enforcement and students and to increase positive attitudes toward law enforcement
  • Educate students in topics such as drivers education, drug and alcohol abuse, and sound and logical decision making
  • Provide support and training for school staff on issues of juvenile law and school safety
  • Protect students and faculty from intruders, conduct criminal investigations, and handle any police related matters that may arise. 
  •  In an emergency, dial 911

  •  For civilians, the main message is RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. At the first sign of trouble, civilians are urged to get to a place of relative safety, lock and barricade doors, turn off lights and stay quiet, escape if possible and call 911.