Evesham Township police look to hire retired officers to protect schools

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Evesham Township Police look to hire officers to protect schools: Christie Ileto reports on Action News at 11 p.m., February 28, 2018 (WPVI)

One New Jersey school district is looking have retired law enforcement serve as armed guards at its facilities.

This was already in the works in Evesham Township School District last year, but the timing is now nationally relevant.

The officers would be a part of the Evesham Township Police Department; the department says the officers would be full-time, fully trained and fully armed.

Students welcome the idea as many expressed worry that what happened in Parkland, Florida could happen at their school.

"Since all the teachers are talking about it, doing escape routes, and ways to get out... it kind of worries me," said student Alexa Rankin.

While the national conversation centers on banning bump stocks and arming teachers, in Evesham Township, it's about recruiting former cops.

"We can recruit retired officers who have 25 plus years of experience in school security, to provide that safety mechanism in each of our district facilities," said Police Chief Christopher Chew.

The officers would be serving eight facilities, plus the township's high school.

Among other things, the job requires applicants be retired no longer than three years, and they need to go through state-mandated training to be fully uniformed and armed and prepared for the worst-case scenario.

"If there is an active shooter, their primary goal is to immediately neutralize that threat. Address the shooter. Attack the shooter. And do everything they can to protect the school and staff," said Chew.

Parents who Action News spoke with seem to be in support of the plan.

"After what happened in Florida, you can't have enough security," said parent Maxine Paul.

"They kind of know what to look for, because they are retired from the force," said parent Brenda Rankin. "I'm OK with them being armed because they are professionals. A lot of people are saying the teachers should be armed, but I wouldn't be comfortable with a teacher carrying a gun."

The department beefed up school security in 2015 after a boy tried to die in a suicide by cop using a replica gun outside Van Zant Elementary.

Parents say this new effort is a start in the right direction.

"It's not an optimal solution, but you have to start somewhere," said parent Greg Blank. "I don't see a downside."

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