By Patricia A. Miller
Township Council members took time out of a special morning meeting yesterday to criticize Central Regional school district officials for having one police officer patrol two schools.
Council President James J. Byrnes said the middle school is especially vulnerable to "internal threats," as well as dangers from outside.
"I think that's the most vulnerable niche we have," Byrnes said. "This is a different time we live in. I think they need protection. It's my opinion that there's no way one officer can cover that."
Central Regional school district officials announced in January that
both the high school and middle school would have a police officer
stationed in each school, rather than just sharing one officer.
But recently the decision was made to have only one armed police officer for the high school and the middle school, which are both located on a campus off Forest Hills Parkway in Bayville.
Township Councilman L. Thomas Grosse Jr. said via speaker phone at the Friday meeting making a school less of a target for intruders is paramount.
"They are going to go to the easiest target," he said.
Central Regional Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said Friday that Central is still discussing how best to handle school security with Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele and other similiar school districts like Southern Regional and Manchester.
Both Southern Regional and Manchester have one officer to handle both middle and high schools, he said.
Parlapanides sent a letter to Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. on Oct. 28. Central - like Berkeley Township school district schools - was provided with two police officers at a reduced rate for the 2012-2013 school year. Central paid for the officers with School Choice funds, Berkeley paid with pre-school program funds.
Central is requesting the use of one officer to patrol both schools for the 2013-2014 school year, with visibility in the parking lots, Parlapanides said.
"Since our two campuses are connected by our own access roadways, there would be no need for the officer to have to exit the campus during the day," he said in the letter. "Please let us know of any officer that would be interested in the position of campus police officer at the current hourly rate as negotiated by the PBA."
Central has already eliminated blind spots in both schools, added security cameras, instituted a key card system, installed inside-locking classroom doors and is considering purchasing a specialty film over all glass doors in both schools to make them shatterproof, he said.
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