NJ churches/venues ordered to prepare for active shooters
Large public venues and houses of worship are now required to submit to the state emergency action plans to deal with a terror attack or mass shooting event.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (S721) requiring the action plans in response to what he termed "the gun violence epidemic."
The new rules cover any house of worship seating more than 500 people, movie theaters with more than 1,00 seats and entertainment venues seating more than 5,00 people.
In a statement, Murphy claims, "This legislation will enhance security requirements for New Jersey's public venues and places of worship so that law enforcement agencies can be best prepared to handle threats and respond to emergencies."
New Jersey has generally not seen the kinds of mass shooter events that have plagued other parts of the country, but there have been recent threats that have heightened awareness.
Earlier this month, all Jewish houses of worship in New Jersey were alerted to the "credible threat." An 18-year old New Jersey man was arrested after posting an on-line manifesto. He later claimed he was just real-time role-playing.
Churches and venues covered by the new law will have seven months to prepare their emergency action plans and submit them to the state for review. They are encouraged to work with local police in developing their plan and identifying areas of concern.
Bill sponsor Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) says mass shootings often happen unexpectedly and without warning, "The way they were handled by law enforcement have reaffirmed the importance of being prepared for these scenarios."
The legislation passed with bi-partisan support in the Assembly and Senate.