MIDDLETOWN — During the Aug. 15 meeting of the Township Committee in Middletown, Mayor Tony Perry swore in the first group of Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEOs) who will serve as armed officers in the Middletown Township Public School District’s 16 schools beginning in September.
In response to the recent killing of students and teachers at the Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the Township Committee and the Board of Education created a shared service agreement to hire SLEOs to enhance the safety and security of Middletown’s students and staff for the 2022-23 school year. The officers will begin training this month and be ready for the first day of school, according to a press release from the township.
“It was imperative to increase police security to protect our school community and I could not be more grateful for the collaboration to make this possible in such a short period of time,” Perry said. “Thanks to the leadership of our board of education and police department, we are instituting a model for others to follow across the state to ensure public safety remains a top priority.”
“Our children’s role is to learn; our teachers’ role is to educate. It is our job as a board to keep them all safe,” Board of Education President Frank Capone said. “Under the leadership of Mayor Perry and Chief Weber, I am proud we are making this a reality for all of our schools.”
“Tonight, we swore in individuals who exemplify the high professional standards of the Middletown Township Police Department and promote positive community relations with our youth,” Police Chief R. Craig Weber said.
According to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), a Class III SLEO must be a retired law enforcement officer, less than 65 years of age, who previously served as a fully trained, full-time police officer in New Jersey. The officer must have served as a full-time officer within three years of his or her appointment as a Class III SLEO.
Class III SLEOs were created in a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in November 2016, according to the NJSBA, which said Class III SLEOs “will be hired for the explicit purpose of providing security at public or nonpublic schools when schools are in session or occupied by students or staff.”