Toms River will step up school security this year by adding 15 armed security officers, all of whom will be retired local police officers or state troopers.
The township will utilize a new officer classification – the Class III Special Officer – to hire for the security staff. Class III officers are retired officers who can come back to work on a part-time or per diem basis.
The plan, according to Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little, is to assign ten Class III officers to Toms River Regional schools and one to Donovan Catholic High School. The four remaining officers will serve as substitutes. All of the officers are certified with full law enforcement powers and have completed additional training. The police department is currently in the process of filling the positions. To oversee the additional officers, the Police Department formed a Community Affairs Division that will be overseen by a lieutenant and two sergeants.
“The addition of the lieutenant, two sergeants and the SLEO officers assigned to our Community Affairs Division could not have happened without the support of the Mayor, Town Council and Administration,” Little said in a statement. “The additional school security is very important to us to ensure that our children are safe and protected.”
The cost of the officers’ salaries will be evenly split between the township and the school district. The officers will not receive benefits packages.
“With the recent violence that has occurred in schools across the country, I thought it was necessary to take a proactive approach and redirect resources to school safety with additional school resource officers for the safety of our students, educators and the community,” said Mayor Thomas Kelaher, a former Ocean County prosecutor.
The township is also hiring Class II officers, who are also armed, to patrol public parks, buildings and barrier island areas year-round.
“We felt like it was important for the Township to show support to the board of education and our residents, the students and parents that we are doing everything we can to keep them as safe as possible,” said Councilman Brian Kubiel.
Class III officers will earn $21,940 per year, compared to $34,790 for a Class II officer and – including salary, pension, employer taxes and benefits – over $100,000 per year for the average full-time officer.