Toms River has joined a list of New Jersey towns who have or will be adding armed police officers to their schools. 

The township council approved an ordinance Tuesday night at a regular meeting which amends Chapter 50 (Department of Law Enforcement) to provide additional regular and special law enforcement officers necessitated by expanded Police Department responsibilities which was also approved on the first reading by the council.

The Toms River Police Department will add 15 Class 3 officers to its Special Law Enforcement Officer Unit (SLEO's) in the 2018-2019 school year, providing an additional layer of safety and community policing to provide every school with an armed police officer.

"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," Police Chief Mitch Little said. "The additional school security is very important to us to ensure that our children are safe and protected."

Ten SLEO's will be assigned to Toms River Regional Schools and one to Donovan Catholic School.

The four remaining SLEO's will slide in as substitutes.

SLEO's are certified police officers who have completed additional training.

The money for the officers in the buildings will be split between Toms River Regional Schools and the Township.

Donovan Catholic will pay for the SLEO in their school as will any K-12 private school in the future.

"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," Mayor Tom Kelaher said.

"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," Council President Brian Kubiel said.

In addition to the Special Law Enforcement Officers being added to the schools, the Police Department, Town Council and Administration have agreed to enhance overall township security in public parks, buildings and barrier island areas.

Township officials add that Class 2 armed officers will be joining the ranks to support regular officers in these areas and provide a higher level of security.

"This ordinance encourages volunteerism by providing points for the written examination for police officers that are volunteer firemen and first aid members," Council Vice President George Wittmann said.

"This ordinance will allow our Police Department to have the necessary resources to protect the children of Toms River," Councilman Terrance Turnbach, a member of the Law and Public Safety Committee in the township said.

Toms River joins shore towns in Point Pleasant Beach, Howell and Brick to add armed officers to their schools, all following the Parkland, Florida shooting earlier this year.

An incident in neighboring Lakewood just a couple months ago where a student brought a .22-caliber handgun onto a school bus, resulted in metal detectors being added to all schools in that township.

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