BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7) personally delivered a $297,673 grant from the Department of Justice Congressman office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), to Berkeley Heights on Thursday afternoon.The grant will fund training of staff and students on security measures and add security enhancements to the district’s schools.
Attending the presentation were Police Chief John DiPasquale, Lieutenant Ernie Schmidt, who drew up the grant application, School Superintendent Judith Rattner, Assistant Superintendent Scott McKinney, and Board President Doug Reinstein, Mayor Robert Woodruff, Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Council Vice President Mike D’Aquilla.
Lance specifically congratulated the police department and school district for securing the highly sought-after grant. “Berkeley Heights is a community where the municipal family works together – the mayor and governing body, the police department, the board of education and the school administration to protect children here.” He noted that New Jersey is a sending state, meaning that generally speaking, it sends more money to the federal government than it receives.
The grant application, which was filed at the end of July and Berkeley Heights is one of four entities in the state to receive the competitive grant. Harrison, Brick Township and the New Jersey Department of Safety are the other three recipients.
The school district’s 2018-2019 budget includes $99,000 specifically earmarked to be used for security enhancements, said Rattner. That money will be combined with the grant to give the district $400,000 to devote to security improvements. This is the second COPS grant received by the district. Schmidt created the grant application for the first one, Rattner said, after the district began enhancing security at its schools.
Lance said, the grant provides funds for training of staff “to recognize warning signs and to institute reporting systems for potential threats,” as well as enhance school security.
Reinstein called it a “great win for Berkeley Heights.”
DiPasquale said the additional funding will help the schools and police department “address some of the issues we want to address.” He also thanked Schmidt for all his work in the area of school security.
Woodruff said the grant is a “welcome gift from the federal government,” and later, said to Rattner, “This is a nice going away gift.”
Rattner, who announced her retirement and whose last day in the district is Oct. 18, agreed it was a great going away gift, then said, “The school district has made the safety of our students our priority. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we accomplished over the years had it not been for our partnership with the police department and the township. Thank you so much for making Berkeley Heights such a wonderful place and the schools such a wonderful place for our students.”
Lance encouraged other officials from towns and school districts to visit Washington D.C. and “lobby on behalf of worthy causes in their home jurisdictions.”