As local school districts look to defend themselves against mass shooters, the idea of having armed guards — whether that means a borrowed patrol officer or a retired cop with a license to carry around kids — has become more appealing to stressed officials and jittery parents.
Some districts, like Lodi and Totowa, did this after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, during which 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 young children and six adults. For others, like officials in Garfield and Mahwah, it took the February shooting in Parkland, Florida — which left 17 dead — to convince them that unarmed security guards just weren’t enough.
“The physical presence of police officers — whether it’s in the short-term or the long-term — sends a very strong message,” said Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet, who asked police to post officers at township schools after a student’s threat in October. “We have to rehabilitate the trust the parents have had in the idea that you send your kids to school and they come home safe.”