- Last Updated: 11:17 AM, December 23, 2012
- Posted: 1:25 AM, December 23, 2012
Don’t mess with Marlboro Township.
The leafy, well-heeled New Jersey suburb will station a permanent armed cop in each of its nine schools starting Jan. 2.
It’s apparently the first district nationwide bent on packing heat in every schoolhouse since madman Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
“We’ve made a collective decision as a town that we need armed security in each of our schools,” Mayor Jonathan Hornik told The Post.
“With this new evil, you can’t just sit there and hope that it doesn’t happen in your town. We must protect our kids.”
The mayor and other town officials had approved the initiative before the chief of the National Rifle Association ignited a firestorm on Friday by calling for armed guards for schools.
Besides putting a cop in each of its schools — one kindergarten, five elementary, two middle and one high school — Marlboro will consider fortifying entrances with steel doors and bulletproof glass and installing surveillance cameras “all over” to feed to the police department, Hornik said.
Cost won’t stand in the way of “state-of-the-art” safety, he added.
“This isn’t a luxury item. This is a necessity, based on what we saw happen in Connecticut,” said Hornik, a Democrat who supports an assault-weapons ban and stricter gun control.
The 40,000-resident Monmouth County town, home to many former Brooklynites and Staten Islanders, has taken groundbreaking safety measures before. In March 2001, it became one of the first towns in the nation to ban cellphone use while driving.
No other school districts in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut have decided to use guns to guard against an assault, officials said.
“If a district in New York state were to pursue that same solution — to bring armed police officers into the schools — we would support that decision,” said David Albert, spokesman for the New York School Boards Association.
But it won’t happen in New York City, said Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg, noting, “We are not considering having armed security officers in our buildings.”
The NYPD oversees 5,000 unarmed safety agents and staffs each city school with at least one. It also sends 350 armed cops to patrol and visit campuses — mostly junior and senior highs.
“On any given day, there are armed police officers assigned to schools. It’s not every school and not every day,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
He said the NYPD will step up efforts to detect danger signs, such as comments on public Web sites, to scope out potential killers.
Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association, said his home district in Boone County, Ky., took up arms in the late 1990s after Ryle HS junior Clay Shrout, 17, killed his mom, dad and two sisters, then used a handgun to hold his class hostage for hours. An assistant principal talked him into surrendering.
Each school or cluster of schools in the district has at least one armed cop on duty, and the community has embraced them, Massey said.
The cops “interact with students, respond to emergencies and deter bullying,” he said.
Despite an armed guard at Columbine HS, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 and wounded 23 in their rampage in 1999. A sheriff’s officer outside the school exchanged fire with Harris but missed him.
Massey predicts others will follow Marlboro’s lead.
“This has rung an alarm bell in the boardroom of every school district in the nation,” he said.
Additional reporting by Dan Hirschhorn