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Bill Would Require Panic Alarm In NJ Public Schools

Assembly Education Committee considers the panic alarm bill.

New Jersey lawmakers are making another effort to get legislation enacted that would require all public schools be equipped with a panic alarm that would be directly linked to law enforcement authorities.

The silent alarm would be activated during a shooting or other school emergency.  Former Governor Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation three times in the past five years.

Now that the state has a new governor, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is hoping the outcome will be different.

“All the violent situations that have taken place in the country, especially in Florida, Connecticut, etc., this bill becomes even more important. It’s not a solver of problems, but we want to cut down on the response time that police have to get to a scene in the event there is a violent situation.”

Gerard Duffy, the president of the New Jersey Electronic Security Association, worries that the panic alarm could be set off accidentally.

“Which could create a police response that could be detrimental of a task force entering a building not knowing what they have, confronting a friendly person and wind up with catastrophic consequences.”

The legislation would also require schools to install a red emergency light in a highly visible location near their front entrance that would go on when the panic alarm is activated. 

Lisa Yakomen is executive director of the Keep New Jersey Safe Foundation. She says the system could help save students’ lives. And schools would not have to pay for the panic alarms.

“All school districts covered under this bill regardless of the level of state aid typically received would have the installation costs fully funded from the proceeds of bonds issued under the educational facilities construction and financing act. These bonds would be issued even in the absence of this legislation.”