TOMS RIVER – In the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history this week, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners wants to “harden” security at its 114 public school buildings spread across 915 square miles.
Commission Director Jack Kelly said he plans to meet Wednesday with county law enforcement officials and educational leaders to explore whether the county government has a role to offer in lending support to local school districts.
The first meeting is expected to be with representatives from the Ocean County Superintendent of Schools, Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, Kelly said.
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The attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 children and two adults on Tuesday. The 18-year-old gunman entered an unlocked door, barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom, and massacred the pupils and teachers inside.
“What do we do to make sure this doesn’t happen in Ocean County?” Kelly said is the question he wants answered.
Kelly said the initial meeting will likely be a prelude to a larger summit with local school administrators, police chiefs and others.
The director stopped short of offering financial assistance to local school districts, but said the county government was in the unique position to coordinate resources and share information with local school districts so as to “harden” them as potential targets.
There have already been tangible signs of change outside schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties this week.
On Tuesday night, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey each announced a heightened law enforcement presence at all schools in their respective jurisdictions.
The statements followed guidance from acting state Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, who earlier in the day said he spoke with law enforcement officials from across the state to ensure coordination.
Contact Asbury Park Press reporter Erik Larsen at [email protected]