The Senate approved legislation, S-2091 / A-373 (Rice / Ruiz / Caputo / Diegnan / Spencer), June 30 requiring public elementary and secondary schools in New Jersey be equipped with a panic alarm and red emergency lights for use in a school security emergencies. The bill, approved 34-1, now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration. The measure was approved by the Assembly back in March by a vote of 56-15-5.
The bill requires that all public elementary and secondary schools be equipped with a panic alarm for use in a school security emergency including, but not limited to, a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation. The alarm would be an addition to existing security systems.
The alarm, which would not be audible within the school building, must be linked to local law enforcement and immediately transmit a signal or message to the authorities upon activation. In the case of a school building located in a municipality where there is no police department, the panic alarm would be linked to a location designated by the Superintendent of State Police.
The bill also requires that a red emergency light be affixed to the exterior of all public elementary and secondary school buildings in a highly visible location above or near the front entrance visible from the nearest public roadway. In the case of a school building that is not clearly visible from the nearest public roadway; the emergency light would be located on that public roadway. The light would be linked to the school's panic alarm so that it turns on when the alarm is activated.
Under the bill, the full cost of these systems would be funded by the proceeds of bonds authorized to be issued to fund the state share of the costs of Schools Development Authority district school facilities projects, or the state share of the costs of school facilities projects in all other districts.
Successful NJPSA Amendment
The bill got to the Governor’s desk during the last legislative session but was pocket vetoed by the Governor in light of review of all security measures by the Administration’s School Security Taskforce.
NJPSA successfully sought amendment during the last legislative session to address the unique characteristics of schools and the communities they serve – namely addressing situations where a school resides within a community without a local police force or circumstances where a school is set back from the road. The Association also sought a funding source to subsidize the school improvements. These changes remain part of the legislation approved June 30.
NJPSA will keep you posted as the legislation moves forward.