In the wake of mass school shootings like that in Uvalde, Texas, security was a major topic of discussion at the township council meeting earlier this month.
“We’re extremely passionate about school safety,” said Mayor Paul Medany. “We want to make sure that when kids are dropped off at school by their parents, that they feel they’re in a safe place. School safety is a joint effort with the school district, but the schools take the lead on it.
“It is the school’s obligation to provide security officers,’’ he added. “School security and the council operate separately from one another.”
Deptford High School currently has six school resource officers at a time on standby.
“An SRO (school resource officer) is a direct employee of the township police department and is trained in that capacity,” Medany explained. “A school security guard is typically armed and permitted to carry a firearm in the school. Typically, security guards are retired police officers, but that is not a requirement. And importantly, security guards are not employed by the township police department; they are under the employ of the school district.”
The mayor added that police have patrolled the grounds of the high school daily since classes began. He also noted that school safety in general is a community effort, since it is also the community’s responsibility to keep authorities informed of potential dangers.
Some people also got “excited” about safety at the meeting, which lasted only about 35 to 40 minutes, according to Medany.
“It is a very passionate subject,” he acknowledged. “I have seven grandkids going to Deptford schools. We’re working on school security every day. It has to be a top priority. Back when I went to school, these things weren’t even thought of.”
At the council meeting, an ordinance passed that amends the registration requirements, registration fees, inspection requirements, maintenance requirements and insurance requirements for vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties.
Resolutions – such as the establishment of both POW/MIA and Gold Star Mothers – and family days to honor veterans, were also items passed with no objections.
But they inevitably took a back seat to concerns raised about school safety.