The Tenafly Board of Education is currently considering placing Class III Officers in all six Tenafly School buildings (Tenafly High School, Tenafly Middle School, Mackay Elementary School, Maugham Elementary School, Smith Elementary School and Stillman Elementary School). We, the undersigned, oppose this measure and DO NOT support this proposition.
We have a clear understanding of the definition of a Class III Officer as a retired law enforcement officer who is less than 65 years of age, who previously (within the past three years) served as a fully-trained, full-time police officer in New Jersey and who is specially trained to work in the school environment. We also understand that this specialized officer will be on school property, at least throughout the school day, and will be carrying a firearm.
Armed guards/officers were on the campuses in three of the most deadly shootings in U.S. history: Parkland, FL; Columbine, CO; and at Virginia Tech. Armed officers at schools did not deter individuals from committing these heinous crimes.
We object to having an armed Class III Officer present during school hours for the following reasons:
1. The concerns of an accidental shooting by a Class III Officer's firearm outweighs our concerns for safety this officer will provide. Since 2014, more than 30 reported gun accidents were the result of the armed officers' weapon firing in schools (CBSNews.com) but that doesn't account for unreported accidents. While a school tragedy in our community is a concern, statistically accidental guns firing in schools are a reality.
2. The funding of these Class III Officers is an ongoing financial commitment costing upwards of three million tax dollars over the next ten years. This cost is an exorbitant and irresponsible line item expenditure especially in light of the fact that our borough had to consider eliminating departments and valued staff members during budget discussions for the 2018-2019 school year budget.
3. The theory of a gun for a gun is not the message we should be sending to our children. We can sufficiently protect our community's schools in other ways. In a memo from our Superintendent of Tenafly schools dated October 30, 2018, Mrs. DeMarco states, "Let us be mindful of the lessons we model to our children, day in and day out, through our actions, our choices, and our responses to others." Let us show our students and our greater community that kindness is the route to a safer and stronger community.
We believe safety in Tenafly schools is best ensured by allocating the resources which would be earmarked for Class III Officers to providing these preventative measures:
1. Increased security measures to the buildings themselves and school perimeters with the addition of reinforced entry systems and enhanced monitoring and alarms on all exterior doors,
2. Educational and mental-health programs to assist teachers, counselors, and students to identify, report, and assist at-risk students BEFORE troubling behavior has a chance to turn into a violent action, and
3. An enhancement of wellness programs that help our students to de-stress, connect and find a supportive place/community within our school buildings
We, the undersigned, urge the Tenafly Board of Education to vote NO to placing armed Class III Officers in our schools at this juncture.