No Hesitation - Roxbury Cops Will Enter Schools to Save Lives, says Chief

James Simonetti and Marc Palanchi discuss school security at special joint meeting of school board and township council
Roxbury Mayor and Council joins school board at school security forum
Several hundred attend special session to discuss Roxbury school security

ROXBURY, NJ – Florida police are being accused of waiting outside a school Feb. 14 while a young gunman killed people inside. That won’t happen here, vowed Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi this week.  

Speaking before several hundred people Monday at a joint meeting of the Roxbury School Board and the Roxbury Mayor and Council, Palanchi said Roxbury police will not hesitate to confront bullets when it comes to saving students.

“I can promise you, when one of my officers shows up to an incident, they will go in and they will take care of it,” Palanchi said. “It’s just what we’re trained to do.”

Sign Up for E-News

The setting for Palanchi’s promise was a public forum on safety and security in Roxbury schools. The session was led by former Roxbury Police Chief James Simonetti, who now serves as security director for the school system.

Both men carefully avoided judging the performance of the Florida officers who, according to reports, failed to immediately enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to confront Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged with killing 17 inside the Parkland, Florida school.

But Palanchi’s statement was unequivocal: His officers will not take up positions outside.

Close to His Heart

“I will tell you with the utmost confidence,” he told the crowd. “I live in this town. I have four kids and my wife is a teacher. When one of my officers shows up at your school, he or she has all the training that we could possibly have packed into them and they have all of the equipment that is necessary for them to enter that building and end that situation as quickly as possible.”

Palanchi, about to enter his second year as chief, also said he believes Roxbury’s schools are safe and – under Simonetti’s guidance – increasingly becoming more secure. “I will assure you that … my family is going through the Roxbury school system and I am 100 percent confident,” said the chief. “I will never hesitate about having my wife and my kids go to these schools 180 days a year.”

Both Palanchi and Simonetti pointed to security systems already installed, or about to be installed, at the schools including “man trap” vestibules, digital cameras that can be accessed by police, “Informacast” digital display units in classrooms and collaborative response graphics technology that gives first responders easy-to-understand maps of facilities and school grounds.

The Value of Speaking Up

However, they – and Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic - stressed that the most important part of school security is communication between students, teachers, parents and officials. Of particular importance is the need for people, including students, to speak up if they believe someone is dangerous or leaning toward misbehavior, they said.

“Roxbury is safe because we live in a township that truly cares about its community,” Radulic said. “What I want you to keep in mind is that these steps are not new. We are not being reactive to situations. Rather, we’ve been proactive and planning all along. As such, I truly believe that Roxbury is a safe district and community.”

Simonetti and Radulic said they are taking seriously the concerns expressed by some people, including the use of township schools as election polling sites and the fact that there are no armed security officers on duty.

They said it’s important that security aspects don’t diminish the joy of learning. “We want the children to be children and allow the adults to handle the problem,” Simonetti said. “Let the kids be kids. Let them learn. Let them feel they’re in a safe environment.”

Simonetti, who wore a badge for 33 years, admitted he tends toward over-protection.

“I’m trying to not act like a cop all the time,” he said, noting Radulic is always reminding him “’Jimmy, you’re not building a prison.’”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Wed, June 20, 6:00 PM

Black Forest Inn, Stanhope

Black Forest Inn Dinner, Retirement Income ...

Business & Finance


Wed, June 20, 7:00 PM

Big Ed's Tap House at Circle Bowl & Entertainment, Ledgewood

Blue Point Brewing Tap Takeover at Circle Bowl

Food & Drink


Thu, June 21, 6:00 PM

La Strada Ristorante, Randolph

La Strada Dinner & Retirement Income Workshop

Business & Finance Food & Drink


Fri, June 22, 4:00 PM

Circle Bowl & Entertainment, Ledgewood

7th Annual Nicklaus J. Russo Birthday Reunion and ...

Food & Drink Giving Back Sports


Letters to TAPinto Roxbury

Necessary Discussion and Debate of Addressing School Violence

June 10, 2018

Dear Editor,

As of late, due to most disturbing acts of violence against children in our schools, there is much vigorous debate regarding gun control and protection of our children and grand-children.

Much of the debate is based on emotion rather than reasoned thought.

I think that exploration in three areas needs to be more thoroughly discussed and debated. The first is ...

Necessary Discussion and Debate of Addressing School Violence

Dear Editor,

As of late, due to most disturbing acts of violence against children in our schools, there is much vigorous debate regarding gun control and protection of our children and grand-children.

Much of the debate is based on emotion rather than reasoned thought.

I think that exploration in three areas needs to be more thoroughly discussed and debated. The first is ...

Two Students from Roxbury Make Springfield College Dean's List

June 19, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Two students from Succasunna qualified for the spring semester dean's list at Springfield College. Criteria for selection to the dean's list requires that the student must have a minimum semester grade point average of 3.5 for the semester.

The students:

Mackenzie Miller, who is studying Health Science/Pre-physician Assistant.

Megan Schneider, ...

22 From Roxbury Area Make U of Delaware Dean's List

NEWARK, DE - The following Roxburyuarea students have been named to the University of Delaware Dean's List for the Spring 2018 semester:

Samantha Aquino of Flanders 

Olivia Boon of Ledgewood 

Christopher Bouvier of Flanders 

Alyssa Cartier of Flanders 

Juliette Castro of Landing 

Brennan Chuprinko of Flanders 

Ryan Decker of ...

Roxbury Student Makes University of Hartford Dean's List

WEST HARTFORD, CT - The University of Hartford is pleased to announce Zachary Almakias of Succasunna has been named to its Dean's List for Spring 2018.

Press Releases

JCP&L Completes Inspections and Projects Prior to Summer Season to Help Enhance Customer Service Reliability

June 11, 2018

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed inspections and projects across its 13-county service area to enhance customer reliability in preparation for the summer season.  The work included upgrading transmission and substation equipment, upgrading circuits and trimming trees along power lines. 

Helicopter patrols are completing inspections on more than 780 ...

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...