Building on last year’s investment in a statewide initiative to collect and digitize blueprints of K-12 school buildings throughout New Jersey to improve school security on behalf of students and staff, Governor Phil Murphy announced an additional investment of approximately $5.79 million in federal funds to further assist with critical incident mapping efforts, according to a prepared statement released on May 22, 2023.
Accurate and uniform maps help law enforcement swiftly and effectively respond to emergencies in unfamiliar environments. These efforts first began in New Jersey when Governor Murphy announced $6.5 million for critical incident mapping efforts in August 2022, and later signed legislation to require all public and non-public schools to submit their mapping data to local law enforcement agencies. Through that funding, the New Jersey State Police was able to contract with a vendor that has been working to collect the updated school maps and upload the electronic format of that information to a database.
“In the face of our country’s ongoing epidemic of gun violence, both in and out of schools, this information is unfortunately yet undeniably necessary to help ensure the safety of our students and educators,” said Governor Murphy. “This additional investment will advance our state’s ongoing efforts to map every school throughout New Jersey to equip law enforcement personnel with the information they need to rapidly respond in the event of a crisis in order to keep our children safe.”
“Our commitment to school safety remains unwavering,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Thanks to Governor Murphy’s leadership, we’re taking another significant step forward in protecting our students and teachers. With critical incident mapping and data analysis, along with additional investments in school security initiatives, we strengthen our efforts to safeguard against emergencies. Together, we’re dedicated to protecting our youth.”
“Our commitment to ensuring that our children and school personnel are safe will always be a top priority in our mission to protect and serve. The critical incident mapping initiative will undoubtedly assist law enforcement during emergent times by providing first responders with an additional tool to work more quickly and more efficiently,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The additional funding represents another step towards making our schools safer and I applaud Governor Murphy for taking these steps aimed at securing schools in New Jersey.”
“By utilizing cutting-edge technology for mapping school facilities, we continue our efforts to provide our students with the safest learning environment possible,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “This strategic investment complements Governor Murphy’s legislation on school safety and underscores our steadfast commitment to all students of New Jersey.”
“The allocation of additional funding toward the statewide school mapping security initiative will aid in building preparedness throughout our region by utilizing modern technology to enhance coordination and security across New Jersey’s schools,” said New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director (NJOHSP) Laurie Doran. “I applaud the Governor for prioritizing the safety of our school communities as NJOHSP continues to support these efforts through collaboration and information sharing.”
These federal funds will be allocated to the New Jersey State Police to support critical incident mapping in the remaining schools to ensure consistent mapping across the state, and to maintain the statewide database to ensure operational security of this data and provide access to the critical incident mapping information to first responders in all 21 New Jersey counties.
Since 1999, there have been at least 380 school shootings throughout America – with 46 school shootings taking place last year alone.
When the critical incident mapping initiative was first announced in August last year, first responders only had access to the mapping data of some of New Jersey’s thousands of public and private schools. Once the schematics for every New Jersey school building are collected, local law enforcement personnel will conduct annual walkthroughs of each building to ensure the mapping data is accurate and up-to-date.
The approximately $5.79 million in funding comes from remaining federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (CRRSA EANS) funds and American Rescue Plan (ARP) EANS funds that must be expended prior to the designated expiration dates. The Administration made the decision to redistribute the funds to the State Police to further enhance the security of New Jersey schools.