SOMERVILLE, NJ – Following the Parkland, Fla school shooting last month in which 17 students and staff were killed, Somerset County Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione and Freeholder Mark Caliguire Thursday announced that the freeholder board will fund a second armed school resource officer at the county Vocational & Technical High School in Bridgewater, and urged every school district in Somerset County to do the same as a means to enhance school security in their communities.
Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano and Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson were quick to add their support.
Scaglione and Caliguire recently met with Vo-Tech Superintendent Dr. Chrys Harttraft to review security protocols intended to safeguard students and faculty at the county-run facility. The superintendent requested funding for an additional SRO at the Vo-Tech to help cover daytime and evening hours when students are on campus.
“The shooting at Parkland and the senseless loss of life were appalling and demand action by elected officials at all levels of government,” Scaglione said. “The presence of well-trained law enforcement officials at our Vo-Tech school is well worth the investment to keep our students and faculty safe. Dr. Harttraft takes security very seriously and is grateful for the additional funding we are providing.”
“I understand that budgets are tight but when it comes to making our schools safer, ‘we don’t have the money’ is not an acceptable excuse. This is about priorities,” said Caliguire, who chairs the county finance committee. “Every school district in the county should allocate the resources to fund at least one armed SRO who can provide a line of defense against a school shooter.
"This issue transcends partisanship and politics. This is common sense and we intend to actively encourage our partners at the local level to join us,” he added.
"The recent spate of school attacks clearly and unfortunately demonstrates why it is necessary for all schools in Somerset County to have school resource officers protecting our children," Provenzano said.
Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson also supports the freeholders’ position.
"While I have confidence in the current security measures in place throughout the various school districts in this county, there is always room for improvement and the introduction of SROs is something I strongly advocate,” Robertson said.