Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer and Police Chief W. Harry Earle met with local education officials Monday night to discuss security upgrades, including the possibility of adding armed police officers to K-8 schools, according to officials.
Mayer and Earle did not attend Monday's Township Council meeting, instead attending the school security session.
The security meeting was called in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, CT, in which a lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 young students.
"Has there been a discussion with Gloucester Township school board about an armed officer in their schools?" Erial resident Tom Crone asked Council.
"That's what they're doing tonight," Council President Glen Bianchini responded.
Crone, the founder of conservative watchdog group South Jersey Citizens, applauded the idea of an armed police presence for Gloucester Township Public Schools (GTPS) before asking Council where the plan stood as of Monday night.
"We haven't been briefed by the mayor or by the chief. Until that, I would say let's not get into it," Bianchini said.
Earle did not rule out the possibility of placing police officers inside GTPS school buildings in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
The local district has eight K-5 schools and three middle schools. It remains unclear whether each school would be guarded by an armed police officer under the proposal.
Black Horse Pike Regional School District has had armed police officers in its three schools—a Gloucester Township police officer at both Highland and Timber Creek and a Runnemede police officer at Triton—for several years now.
Towns across the nation have responded to the Sandy Hook mass shooting by placing armed guards in their school buildings. On Dec. 21, the National Rifle Association called on Congress to fund armed police officers for every school in the country.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, NRA chief executive officer.
Two towns in New Jersey have already added police officers to their schools following the Connecticut tragedy.
Marlboro, Monmouth County, added an armed police officer to each of its nine schools beginning Jan. 2. Totowa, Passaic County, also placed armed police officers in its two elementary schools.
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