Bridgewater, NJ mayor proposes armed cops in schools in September
Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench is pushing forward with his $1.3 million plan to position a police officer in each school in September.
While the Republican mayor and Superintendent Robert Beers agree on the need to provide the security they have differing opinions on how to do it. Beers favors hiring two resource officers, four retired law enforcement officers and up to three Class 3 police officers for the new school year.
Moench and Beers ended the school year at odds over school security and less than a month before the new school year starts they have picked up where they left off.
In a letter to the Board of Education, Moench said the community has had a "justifiably impassioned conversation" about school safety and security. He is willing to work with Beers and the board to find common ground for compromise. But the mayor seems to be digging in his heels and doing it publicly.
"Compromise does not mean concession on any of the core principles which will ensure the safety of our children. As both a father and a public official, I cannot and will not abandon my responsibility to ensure the security of our schools," Moench says in the letter.
Beers told TAP Into The Breeze that he is "flabbergasted" that Moench would make the plan's details public and only serve to heighten anxiety of students, staff and parents.
“As long as I am the superintendent of schools, I am not going to negotiate school security through Facebook, Twitter and the like,” he told TAP Into the Breeze “These discussions happen behind closed doors, with adults in the room.”
Beers criticized Moench for playing politics and for trying to act as the mayor, police chief and school superintendent.
Beers on Friday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for comment.
The mayor said that under his plan the officers would answer to the police chief and have a moral and legal duty to protect human life that can't be matched by non-police officers.
"Armed private security personnel — no matter how well trained or qualified — lack the same legal duties and protections of sworn law enforcement officers; consequently, they cannot be entrusted with the safety of our children in a life-or-death emergency," Moench's letter says.
Under the township's plan, the district would reimburse the municipality $265,870 while the township would spend over a million dollars.
Moench said that the district's plan would cost more than $500,000 a year on their "own private security force" that would still have to call township police for help.
The Board of Education's next meeting is Aug. 30. No agenda has yet been posted.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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