JERSEY CITY, NJ — It’s the kind of scene and sounds any parent hopes their children never see or experience, especially while in school. Police and emergency crews flooding school grounds.
This is the unfortunate scenario that Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea says his officers prepare for, to protect 42 schools and almost 30,000 students, including hundreds of Filipinos.
It begins with resource officers assigned to many schools gathering intelligence and developing relationships with the administrators, parents and students.
“However lately in the United States we also had to deal with external threats to our schools so we have coverage with plain clothes and both uniforms that you can see, and all that depends on the intelligence component that our police department does and what we feel is the level at each schools at any time,” said Shea.
He says securing large schools in a big city like Jersey City requires a multi-layer approach. And it does not include arming teachers which president trump has suggested several times since the Parkland school shooting five weeks ago.
“That is not an option we are looking at in New Jersey and in Jersey City at this time. We think public safety professionals should provide the safety and the teachers should concentrate on teaching the students.”
Shea says they also depend on parents and guardians to help them.
“We also monitor social media and we work with parents who allowed to send us social media things. Maybe they see something that they don’t like. They send that in to us, and we investigate it and our detectives get involved.”
Jersey City is home to over 16,000 Filipinos, according to the 2010 census. About 25 percent of the Jersey City students are Asian, 22 percent white, 23 percent black and 28 percent Latino.
Protecting a diverse student body, Shea says, is a challenge but everyone has one common goal — that schools remain a place to learn, not a place to fear.