TRENTON, N.J. - Retired law enforcement officers will be allowed to serve as part-time security officers in schools, thanks to a new law that was pushed by Denville Police Chief Chris Wagner.
The law, sponsored by state Assembly Republican Whip Anthony Bucco, that will allow public and non-public schools and county colleges to hire retired law enforcement officers to serve as security officers. It was signed into law Nov. 30 by Gov. Chris Christie.
Wagner was instrumental in pushing for the measure. His efforts began when he was president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
Wagner was president of the NJSACOP when the legislation was first considered, drafted and introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly, said the organization greatly appreciated the state legislators who introduced and guided the bills through the long review process
.“We could not be more grateful to both Senator Anthony R. Bucco and Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco for their leadership, persistence, and hard working in getting this legislation not only introduced, but ultimately signed into law," he said in a statement. "Their guidance in helping us work through the process was invaluable.”
Assemblyman Bucco, who also serves as Roxbury Township's township council, called the law a “common sense measure that benefits students and taxpayers.”
Added Bucco, "School officials will have a larger pool of experienced retired police officers to hire for protecting our students on school property. At the same time, it will save taxpayers a lot of money by allowing school districts and municipalities to hire these officers at a much lower rate and without the need for pension and health benefit contributions."
Bucco said that having in schools experienced police officers who know the members of the local police departments and how to communicate with them in emergencies "is a major advantage when it comes to protecting our children."
School boards are currently allowed to hire law enforcement officers and public school resource officers. The new law specifically allows them to hire retired law enforcement officers.
“The NJSACOP has championed the cause of creating this new class of Special Police Officers for several years, and we want to express our thanks for the governor for singing this legislation into law today,” said the association's current president, William Parent. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and we strongly believe that this law gives our state an important new tool in providing a safer environment for our school kids, our teachers, and everyone else who works at or visits schools and community colleges in our state."
The bill (S-86/A-3629) establishes an additional category of special law enforcement officers, specifically, retired officers who are less than 65 years old. They will be authorized 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 will not replace regular law enforcement officers or school resource officers currently employed in schools.