NJ mayor takes political aim at superintendent on armed guards at schools
BRIDGEWATER — The mayor of Somerset County's second-most populous municipality is targeting the local superintendent over a plan for armed security in schools.
In an email to residents, which was also posted on Facebook using the township's official page, Moench criticized the school district's plan for not including the use of actively serving Bridgewater police officers.
"Under either plan, armed personnel would be in the schools," Moench said. "The question is do you feel more comfortable with those armed individuals being police officers under high standards and one chain of command or would you rather them being armed 'school monitors' who report to a chief school security guard."
Moench urged residents to contact Beers and the Bridgewater school board to demand active police officers. While Moench is free to make a call to action, the mayor has no legal authority over the superintendent or school board.
In using the term school monitor, Moench referred to school resource officers. The U.S. Department of Justice states that SROs are similar to police officers and are armed.
"While an SRO's primary responsibility is law enforcement, whenever possible, SROs should strive to employ non-punitive techniques when interacting with students. Arrests should be used only as a last resort under specified circumstances."
It comes after Moench posted armed police officers at Bridgewater schools this week for the last four days of school. Beers told New Jersy 101.5 he was not included in the conversations to make that decision.
School board President Steven Singer threw his weight behind Beers. Singer told New Jersey 101.5 that under Beers' plan, the district will use two school resource officers and up to three Class 3 Special Law Enforcement Officers. The board has also approved the hiring of four retired LEOs.
"The safety and security of our students and staff is of the utmost importance," Singer said. "Superintendent Beers, with the support of the members of the Board of Education, has taken decisive action to enhance security throughout the district."
Beers did not return a request for comment.