GLOUCESTER CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Some South Jersey schools will be getting a new safety tool - one that schools in the past probably never imagined they would need.
Officers with the Gloucester City Police Department on Wednesday demonstrated the effectiveness of new safety shields which will be installed in Gloucester City Schools in case of an active shooter situation.
Leo Holt, the president of Holt Logistics in Gloucester City, donated the shields.
A live-fire demonstration using the shields was held on a secure site at the company's King Street headquarters. According to its website, Holt Logistics is "a family-owned, single-source service provider of commercial, accounting, marketing and technology services to marine terminal operators, warehouses and logistics companies." Their facilities include the Gloucester Marine Terminal, Packer Ave Marine Terminal and Pier 5 Camden.
The police department will install 250 safety shields in all of the city's public schools. They are described as lightweight, portable steel shields, weighing 22 pounds each.
Following the demonstration, officers conducted sessions at Gloucester High School on how to use the shields.
"Our goal is to demonstrate it, to allow the students and staff to see it, to hold it, to feel it, so they're comfortable with it, comfortable with the locations and comfortable with it being there in the event of an emergency so they can grab it," Gloucester City Police Chief Brian Morrell told Action News.
"It's our responsibility to make our children, our staff members, our students as safe as possible. This is just an added tool in the toolbox," Morrell said.
The shields will be placed strategically in buildings near fire extinguishers where teachers and students can access them in the event of an active shooter situation.
"In the event you're in a hallway or trying to get out of the building and the shooter is there, or you're trying to get in the classroom to keep your fellow classmates safe, this is something to grab, hold in front of you, and to get to where you need to be as quickly as possible," Morrell said.
This past June, the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics came out with a report saying there were a total of 93 school shootings with causalities at public and private elementary and second schools during the 2020-21 school year, more than in any other year since data collection began.
According to the organization Education Week, there have been 49 school shootings this year that resulted in injuries or deaths.