Armed Officers To Be In Every Toms River Township School

Photo courtesy Ocean County Scanner News

TOMS RIVER – In the 2018-2019 school year, there will be 15 new Class III special officers, bringing the tally up to one armed police officer in every school.

Currently, there are four officers who patrol the schools, Police Chief Mitch Little said. Ten of the new ones will allow the department to have one officer in each of the town’s 14 public schools. There will also be one officer stationed at the campus where Donovan Catholic and St. Joseph Grade School are located. The four remaining hires will be substitutes.

School officers are there for security, but they have another role, Little explained. They are there to get to know the students, and become a source that kids can look up to and trust, so that children can come to them if they have a problem.

The school officers will wear the same uniforms as those on patrol because the department wants students to equate the two.

These Class III officers are certified police officers who have completed additional training, he said. By law, Class III officers can only be used in schools.

Photo by Chris Lundy

The cost for the officers’ salaries will be split between Toms River Regional Schools and the township. Each entity will pay half of the officers’ salaries. Donovan Catholic, a private school, will pay 100 percent of the salary of the officer assigned to that campus. Any other private school that attains one in the future will also have to pay 100 percent.

The total the township will pay is half a million dollars, officials said. No benefits are connected with these positions.

Additionally, the township will be adding Class II armed officers to be used throughout the township, parks, municipal buildings, and special events. Class IIs can be retired within three years or on a current list to be hired.

“As the town gets bigger, the demands on the police grow,” Mayor Thomas Kelaher said.

In order to properly oversee the additional officers, a new unit had to be structured within the department, Little said. This will be led by a new lieutenant and two sergeants.

The new lieutenant and sergeants will be promoted from within, and then new police officers will be hired at the starting rate to fill in the promotions, he said. The number of regular officers will remain unchanged.

The department will reduce the number of Class I officers, who are unarmed, through attrition, he said.

The ordinance making this change was introduced at the most recent Township Council meeting and passed unanimously on introduction. A second reading of the ordinance is expected at the Aug. 28 meeting, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.