RANDOLPH, NJ - The Board of Education met with the Randolph Police Department and Township Council representatives to better understand the authority RPD has on district property. The district learned the police cannot enter school property at will, RPD cannot issue tickets on school property unless asked and they cannot dictate how many officers are required at school events.
The discussion began after the police were unable to help with the Sept. 1 incident where alcohol was found on school property. The topic resurfaced when Randolph was denied the application to host the the NJSIAA Track Sectional Championship due to the high cost of police coverage at meets.
Board President Al Matos presented the results of this meeting to the board, public and district staff to clear up any misunderstanding of the police role at school functions.
While the police chief agreed that the Memorandum of Agreement between RPD and the BOE is factual, Matos said, “he did remind us that he is the chief police officer and we should take his recommendation seriously.”
Several board members commented that common sense needs to be used when requesting police officers for large crowds. Board member Anne Standridge reminded them that many school events, such as the track meet, have parents, coaches and other officials supervising and fewer officers are needed for the crowd.
“It’s never been an issue having someone do the parking out on Millbrook Ave, realizing that’s the best place for the police officer,” Standridge said. “Quite honestly, at the Freedom Park [event] the [officers] who were out on the road, were on the road the whole time, and they really worked. The guys that were walking around in the park, probably not so much.”
She encourages district staff and event organizers to utilize the less-expensive Ram Guards for security at events. “Over the past year, we have always gone by the recommendation that the chief of police has made, and he has not been willing to budge on us using our security.”
Matos stated, “the recommendation of the police department can be ignored by the event owner,” and Superintendent Jenn Fano commented that this had not been clear before.
The next step for the board is to review and modify the policies related to police involvement to provide direction, not only for school sponsored events, but also Booster Clubs and Third Party Organizations renting facilities, Matos explained. He suggested event organizers submit a security plan along with their insurance and other documentation when planning an event.
The RPD and BOE meeting also clarified the policy for cars passing school buses picking up students. Several weeks ago, a member of the public commented on this as a problem he saw regularly.
Matos reported back, explaining that any resident or bus driver can file a complaint with the police department reporting a traffic violation, but they will need to have details on the make and model of the car, as well as the license plate number.
The superintendent will pull together the cost of adding cameras to the buses. These cameras will need to have a high resolution to capture the license plate as well as a photo of the driver. “Just because someone owns a car, doesn’t mean they were driving it,” Matos said.