Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook | Twitter
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill requiring the state’s public schools to install so-called panic alarms. Murphy signed the bill Wednesday.
It’s being called Alyssa’s law after 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. She was a New Jersey native who died in the fatal high school shooting a year ago in Parkland, Florida.
Murphy, a Democrat, says the state “will do everything in our power” to prevent tragedies like the one in Parkland.
“Alyssa’s death is a stark reminder of the dangers of gun violence and the need for adequate school security measures,” said Murphy. “In New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to prevent these tragedies from occurring within our borders.”
CBS3 went to Clayton High School Middle School to see exactly how the silent alarm works. On the outside are warning lights, and inside, Clayton schools have hidden buttons that would trigger an immediate police response during an emergency.
“It’s like a bank alarm,” explained Clayton Schools Superintendent Nik Koutsogiannis. “If someone was to walk into a bank and rob a bank, they press a button and it alerts the local authorities, same idea.”
The legislation requires the state’s roughly 2,500 public schools to install silent alarms that communicate life-threatening or emergency situations to law enforcement.
The state will provide some districts money from last year’s $500 million bond referendum. It’s all meant to reduce the threat of school shootings.
“If something is going down in the school that is not so good, the police and the first responders getting here as quick as possible, cutting that time down will save lives,” Koutsogiannis.
To go along with silent alarms, many schools are investing in creating multiple layers of security to get into their buildings. At Clayton, you first have to be buzzed in from the outside. Once you get inside the first set of doors, you actually have to pass security a second time before you can have have access to the building.
“You know somebody buzzes in and all of a sudden somebody walks in behind them, now you can contain them into an area,” said Koutsogiannis.
This sort of protected vestibule controls access, even for parents that need to drop off forgotten items. It’s an enhanced security measure many districts want to strongly consider as they come into compliance with the new silent alarm mandate.
“Protects the rest of the school from somebody wanting to be a bad actor and doing something stupid,” said Koutsogiannis.
Legislative sponsors of the new law say some districts, like Clayton, which recently purchased silent alarms may be able to get reimbursements.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)