RELEASE: Gottheimer, Murphy, Lagana Announce New Federal Investment for School Safety and Security Technology — Investment for Digital Blueprints of NJ Schools for Law Enforcement Use During Emergencies

Aug 30, 2022
Press

Clawing back federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress

Above: Gottheimer announcing new federal investment for statewide school safety and security.

PARAMUS, NJ — Today, August 30, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with Governor Phil Murphy, State Senator Joe Lagana, local officials, educators, and law enforcement, announced a new federal investment clawed back from the American Rescue Plan to help improve school safety and security, and provide our law enforcement with the resources they need to keep children and educators safe. This new statewide school security investment will ensure that law enforcement has immediately accessible digital blueprints of every New Jersey K-12 school building to help them act swiftly and protect our schools, educators, and children if there is an active shooter situation, attack, or emergency. This technology will help law enforcement act quickly and decisively. 

These new resources will not only keep our communities, families, and brave first responders safe, but will also help lower our property taxes and make life more affordable for North Jersey residents. 

Since 2018, from Parkland to Uvalde, there have been 119 shootings in K-12 schools, resulting in a death or injury. Scores of children and teachers have died. As we saw in Uvalde, TX, every second counts during an active shooter situation, and knowing how to get in and out of a school building, as well as the pressure points, doors, and vent shafts, can be the difference between life and death.

This new federal investment was made possible by the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year.

“This new school security investment will ensure that law enforcement has immediately accessible digital blueprints of every school building in the state, God forbid there is an active shooter situation or other attack. This technology will help law enforcement act quickly and decisively,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “And this new investment was made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year. It’s hard to think of a better use of these federal resources than to ensure we’re protecting our schools, educators, and children by giving our law enforcement the resources they need to keep them safe.”

“With the epidemic of gun violence reaching every part of our communities, including our schools, we offer our families not empty promises, but concrete investments in tools and resources that will keep our students safe,” said New Jersey Governor Murphy. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and the educators who help our children achieve their full potential. In order to protect our children and educators, we must equip our first responders with the most up-to-date 21st-century technology so that they can respond to emergencies without unnecessary delay.”

“Given the rise in school shootings around the country, it is paramount that, in addition to having among the strongest gun safety laws in the nation and bolstering mental health services, we also do all we can to protect our students through providing law enforcement and first responders with every available tool that could help save lives,” said New Jersey State Senator Joseph Lagana. “Access to digital floor plans, will better prepare local law enforcement and first responders in the case of any emergency situation. I would like to thank the Governor for pushing this initiative forward and better ensuring the safety and security of our State’s students.”

Gottheimer’s work to keep North Jersey schools safe includes the following:

  • Gottheimer helped pass critical, lifesaving gun legislation — the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — the first major federal gun safety legislation signed into law in decades.
  • Gottheimer introduced the bipartisan ALYSSA Act, named after Alyssa Alhadeff, who was originally from North Jersey, and who lost her life at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida — to require schools nationwide to have silent alarms and to support trained school resource officers. In New Jersey, Alyssa’s Law requires that all Jersey public schools install silent panic alarms. 
  • Cosponsoring and helping pass the Enhanced Background Checks Act in the House to close the Charleston Loophole that allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed a background check.
  • Since 2016, the Fifth District is now up 357% in federal tax dollars Gottheimer helped claw back to Jersey from Washington — helping to protect our families, children, and first responders and lower our property taxes. In 2021 alone, the Gottheimer helped claw back more than $750 for every single North Jersey household, dollars going back into the pockets of our hardworking families when they need them most — to help firefighters put out a blaze, help law enforcement protect us from terror and crime, better secure our parochial schools, churches, temples, and mosques, and protect our children and communities.
  • This year, Gottheimer introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act — which will make critical, targeted investments in recruiting and retaining the best talent, training, safety, body cameras, and for the mental health of our officers.

Gottheimer was joined today at East Brook Middle School in Paramus by Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey State Senator Joe Lagana, Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera, East Brook Middle School Principal Ryan Aupperlee, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, NJ Office of Homeland and Security Preparedness Director Laurie Doran, and local law enforcement. 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer announcing new federal investment for statewide school safety and security.

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Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

I’d like to begin by thanking all our brave first responders for everything you do to keep our schools, communities, and our country safe. Our brave law enforcement selflessly put their lives on the line every day to protect our children and families and take on the toughest, most urgent challenges facing our communities, from violent crime, to terrorist attacks.

I’d also like to thank our educators, administrators, and our Education Support Professionals for everything you do. As the son of a teacher, I know just how important public education is to our families and communities — we would be nothing without our educators. These have not been easy times for our educators. Despite the pandemic and in the face of evolving threats to schools, our educators have never given up and they consistently deliver for our students. 

I couldn’t be more pleased that we are all here together in the best Congressional district in the state, to announce a new $6.5 million federal investment that we’ve clawed back to New Jersey from Washington to better protect our schools and our children. 

Here’s the unfortunate reality. Since 2018, from Parkland to Uvalde, there have been 119 shootings in K-12 schools, resulting in a death or injury. 88 people have been killed. Scores of children and teachers have died. This is a clear and present danger – and, as we saw with the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, every second counts. Knowing how to get in and out of a school building, the pressure points, the doors, the vent shafts, and such, can be the difference between life and death. 

This new school security investment will ensure that law enforcement has immediately accessible digital blueprints of every school building in the state, God forbid there is an active shooter situation or other attack. This technology will help law enforcement act quickly and decisively. 

And this new investment was made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year. It’s hard to think of a better use of these federal resources than to ensure we’re protecting our schools, educators, and children by giving our law enforcement the resources they need to keep them safe. 

I’m very proud to have played a role in helping to pass it – and I want to thank Joe and the Governor for ensuring that the Jersey dollars are being utilized to protect our children in a place parents should always consider safe.  

In addition to this great new initiative, we must also continue to fight for and pass commonsense bipartisan gun and school safety legislation, like what we got signed into law in June. We made effective, commonsense progress because Democrats and Republicans, in the House and the Senate, put country over party, came together, and came to an agreement that will help save countless lives. 

There’s still more progress to be made, but, after decades of inaction, this was a meaningful and strong step in the right direction.

This bipartisan legislation builds on commonsense school safety laws we have here in Jersey like Alyssa’s Law — named after Alyssa Alhadeff, who was originally from North Jersey, and who lost her life at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. This law requires that all Jersey public schools install silent panic alarms. 

I’ve introduced the bipartisan ALYSSA Act in Congress to require schools nationwide to have silent alarms and trained school resource officers.

I’m also fighting to make sure that we’re clawing back more federal dollars from Washington for our first responders, families, and communities. 

In fact, I’m very proud to share that we are now up 357 percent in our federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington, like what we are announcing today, helping to protect our families, children, and first responders and lower our property taxes. In 2021 alone, we clawed back more than $750 for every single North Jersey household — dollars going back into the pockets of our hardworking families when they need them most, while helping to make our streets safer, get lead and forever chemicals out of the drinking water, better handle flash storms like Ida, and wire our communities with broadband. 

We’ve clawed back dollars from the Moocher States to help us here, to help firefighters put out a blaze, help law enforcement protect us from terror and crime, better secure our parochial schools, churches, temples, and mosques, and protect our children and communities. And by clawing back more to Jersey, our mayors, councils, and first responders have lifted significant costs off of our town budgets and helped provide critical tax relief to our residents on their property tax line — it’s a win-win for us all.

To close, I know that today’s statewide school security initiative will play a critical role in keeping our schools safe from violence and other emergency situations.  I also want to again thank law enforcement, who are often first on the scene to protect our children. We should do whatever we can to provide more investment in law enforcement, including with my bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act, so they have the tools to better protect themselves and our communities. We must fund – not defund – law enforcement. 

By working together, like we are today — and with the bravery of our local law enforcement, the dedication of our educators, and the safety of our children as our top priority, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you, God bless you and our children, God bless our troops, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.

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