Active shooter drill scheduled for Hazlet, NJ high school
HAZLET— Don't be alarmed if you see SWAT teams descend on Raritan High School next week. It's only a test.
Monmouth County law enforcement agencies will take part in an exercise on Wednesday. Unlike other active-shooter drills that have drawn criticism for being unnecessarily alarming, this one will be conducted while students and staff are not in the building.
What to expect during the drill at Raritan High School
A large number of law enforcement will be visible the day of the drill at Raritan High School starting at 9 a.m. The drill, which will simulate an active shooter situation inside the school, begins at 1 p.m.
Law enforcement will be seen on athletic field and and the parking lots at Veterans Park across the street.
There will also be increased first responder activity on County Road 516, Middle Road, and Union Avenue in Hazlet but these roads will remain open during this exercise.
No school personnel, students or volunteers will be part of the drill in order to limit the potential spread of coronavirus, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Nearly a dozen police departments will be participating along with the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management, Monmouth County Fire Marshal, Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, and the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team (MOCERT).
Safety fears as students return to school
"Monmouth County is conducting this drill to build on the lessons learned during our last full-scale exercise in Manasquan in 2018," Gramiccioni said. "We are committed to improving the readiness of public safety agencies throughout Monmouth County to respond to an active threat event. We cannot become complacent."
Hazlet Police Chief Ted A. Wittke said that with students returning to classrooms full time after the pandemic, it's important for first responders in the county to be ready for an emergency.
Changes to NJ active-shooter drills
Gov. Phil Murphy's gun-related proposals announced by Gov. Phil Murphy include a more informed approach to such drills to ensure that the lessons learned by students aren't outweighed by the stress caused by these drills.
Under his proposal, the Department of Education would get the green light to establish standards for lockdown drills that encourage "preparation over simulation" — no fake gunshots in the hallway, no rewards for children who "fight off" the shooter, and better training for educators charged with implementing the drills, for example.
Under New Jersey law, every school must have at least one fire drill and one school security drill each month. All school employees are required to receive annual training on school safety and security.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story should have said that the drill would be taking place at Raritan High School in Hazlet.
Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was included in this report.