The new procedures will take immediate effect Monday, March 5. Cherry Hill Police Chief Bud Monaghan said officers are there not just for security, but to improve community relationships.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 2, 2018
Armed Cherry Hill police will be deployed in Cherry Hill public schools starting Monday, March 5, as part of a new roll-out of security protocols announced by the district today.
The changes were announced after a meeting with the township government Friday morning.
A number of other changes will also take effect immediately, including:
- family visitors will be required to present photo ID and their student’s ID number prior to gaining entrance to any building, and must wear visitor badges when on campus
- any non-family visitor, including alumni, must make an appointment before arriving on school grounds, and must present ID before being admitted
- the district will communicate all arrival and dismissal procedures with Cherry Hill families
- students arriving late must be admitted by security and signed in
In addition, the following procedures will be put in place for district staff:
- must sign in and out of the building at arrival and departure
- must be admitted one at a time
- must wear ID at all times
- keep all exterior doors closed and locked at all times
- will hold monthly fire and security drills
- regularly review security procedures at all staff meetings
The district letter also noted that everyone is encouraged to adhere to the “if you see something, say something,” adage.
Further protocols will be discussed at a special meeting of the district Board of Education slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 at the Cherry Hill High School West auditorium.
“We are ready and willing to partner with the schools,” said Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn in an open letter discussing the security changes. “We have the capability to make improvements today and that’s what we are going to do.”
Cahn’s letter noted that the officer deployments will complement the existing patrol procedures in and around school areas, which are directed by Cherry Hill Police Chief Bud Monaghan.
The chief said the presence of officers, which already average some 12,000 directed patrol walk-throughs at each district school annually, won’t represent a major cultural shift. Police aren’t only security guards, but may also be able to help offload security responsibilities that will free up building administrators to address other duties.
“I see benefits aside from just having the equipment that an officer has,” Monaghan said: “an opportunity to develop trust and understanding, and foster pathways of communication.
“Students might be the first ones to know that someone made a comment, or that someone’s not acting right,” he said.
“We want to break down that cultural mindset that you can’t talk to the police.”
Monaghan said he’s attempted to deepen community ties with officers through police clubs at the district high schools and a township-wide police youth academy.
He cited the discretion that officers have in charging juveniles, and stressed that police are not expected to increase or interfere with in-district discipline protocols.
“The idea is not to go into any type of institution and arrest people,” Monaghan said. “If people are concerned that cops are going to be walking in and writing people detention slips, that’s not happening. That’s not what our purpose is.
“We’re a service-oriented profession, and we want to provide multiple levels of service to the community and the population that we serve,” he said. “We’re there as a visual deterrent, as a level of increased safety, and to build relationships with the teachers, staff, and the students.”
The district has been consumed with conversations about security since a popular history teacher, Timothy Locke, questioned the district safety protocols in a wide-ranging classroom discussion after the Parkland, Florida school shootings.
Those tensions were exaggerated when Locke was placed on administrative leave and student demonstrations calling for his reinstatement spilled out of the building.
A marathon Board of Education meeting Tuesday night revealed heightened tensions among district parents, which led to township and school officials pledging to tighten up security throughout the district.
Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
- Student: Suspended Cherry Hill Teacher Told Class ‘I Have The Gun’ (Mar. 1, 2018)
- Cherry Hill Principal Retracts Punishment Threats; Mayor, Council Call for School Security Review (Feb. 27, 2018)
- Threatened with Discipline, Fearful for Their Safety, Cherry Hill East Students Push Back After Teacher’s Suspension (Feb. 27, 2018)
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