New Jersey to Allow School Resource Officers to Work the Social Distancing Beat on Shore Beaches and Boardwalks

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TRENTON – As Shore resorts seek to augment their police forces with special officers for the busy summer season, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today issued guidance to law enforcement on a new expedited process that will allow special law enforcement officers who work in New Jersey’s schools to be re-designated to perform general law enforcement duties as seasonal law enforcement officers in other municipalities.

The guidance is designed to help municipalities address law enforcement staffing issues caused by COVID-19, especially in those municipalities that see an influx of visitors during the summer months. This action is the latest step taken by Attorney General Grewal and the Police Training Commission (PTC), which establishes statewide standards for police officers, to ease the burden on local law enforcement agencies during the pandemic.

“We knew law enforcement resources would be stretched to the limit by this pandemic, not only because of officers being ill or quarantined, but because of the many new responsibilities imposed by this unprecedented emergency,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Nonetheless, police across New Jersey have worked together, as they always do, to meet the challenges, and we are doing all that we can do at the state level to support their heroic efforts. I’m confident that the measures we have announced to address manpower issues – along with the recent re-opening of the police academies – will give our Shore communities the officers they need to ensure a safe and family-friendly summer season.”

State law allows municipalities to hire “special law enforcement officers” (SLEO), who can perform certain functions for a police department but lack the full authorities of a typical law enforcement officer. The law establishes three categories: SLEO I officers, who handle routine traffic details, spectator control, and similar duties; SLEO II officers, who have full arrest authority but generally work on a part-time or seasonal basis; and SLEO III officers, who provide security at schools.

Generally speaking, law enforcement agencies must obtain approval from the PTC to transfer an officer from one category of SLEO to another. Earlier this year, the PTC created a program to streamline the transfer process, so long as the SLEO remained working in the same town. Today’s guidance now makes it easier for SLEOs to transfer between municipalities as well, making it easier to deploy officers to the communities that need them most.

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