All public elementary and secondary schools in the State of New Jersey could soon be required to install silent panic alarms and red emergency lights on the exterior of the buildings. The panic alarm would not be heard within the school; it would link to local police. And the lights would signal a security emergency including, but not limited to, “a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation.” The legislation was introduced last January, about a month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. What is unique about this legislation is its breadth. So far only individual counties have implemented such systems: Long Island’s Nassau County, NY (350 schools) and Delaware County, PA (114 schools). The New Jersey bill would require statewide implementation.
While the bill (A-3691) passed in the NJ Assembly this week, 58 to 19, it will need to pass the full Senate next week. New Jersey State bonds would pay for the new systems, which lawmakers estimate would cost $1000 to $5000 per school. There are 2,444 elementary and secondary schools in New Jersey. At $3000 per installment, total cost would top $7 million.