Guns in schools? Bring them on, says one area public official, but before you jump to the wrong conclusion, hear him out.

Steven Rogers, a Republican Nutley Commissioner, an ex-cop, a former school trustee and current adviser to President Donald J. Trump, is campaigning to get trained, armed personnel in schools to protect students and staff.

In a May Tweet, Rogers said he’d be “speaking to state legislators” about passing a bill “to establish a uniform-mandated school-security protocol that includes police personnel in schools.”

Given N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent assertion that the Garden State would not accept any federal funds — should they be made available — to arm public school teachers, The Observer figured it made sense to check in with Rogers on his own legislative pitch.

Asked if there was any bill in the hopper to implement his mandate for cops-in-school, Rogers said: “There’s not one now [but] I hope one will be introduced. I’ve talked to some assemblymen and senators around the state and several said [my proposal] has merit.”

If local boards can’t or won’t pull the trigger, Rogers said, then it would be “beneficial for the state to step in and take control.”

As a fallback position, if a school board won’t hire people with guns, then “let people vote on it,” he said.

“Your most important layer of protection is a trained armed police officer in schools,” Rogers said, because metal detectors only go so far. Much better, he said, is to have a cop — active or retired — or a military person who is trained in firearms and in engaging shooters.

“Then,” he said, “if a person somehow penetrates a school with a loaded weapon, you have someone else trained in firearms inside.”

Many school districts are “spending thousands on school security assessments,” Rogers said, when, instead, they’d be better off to “reach out to retired cops in [their] community who did community policing in the ‘90s” and hire them.

Emphasis on “gun control” is misplaced, Rogers said. “Gun-free zones have proven not to work. Chicago has the toughest gun control laws but they’ve had over 100 people killed [this year].”

Several school districts in The Observer territory deploy uniformed police personnel but not in every school every day.

In Kearny, three armed cops are assigned to the schools: one is stationed at the high school daily; another is a L.E.A.D. instructor for an anti-drug program and rotates through elementary schools; and a third functions as a rotating community-policing officer. Some elementary schools have unarmed security personnel guarding entrances.

The Harrison Board of Education recently hired two “Class 3” cops — a retired state trooper and a retired Harrison cop who both carry weapons — and a third police retiree serves as a “Class 2” armed officer. All cover the district’s four schools on a rotating basis at the direction of BOE security director, retired Harrison police supervisor Michael Green.

And in Lyndhurst, there are two township cops assigned full-time to the high school as armed school resource officers, supplemented by two volunteer cops, also armed, who rotate through the district.

In recent conversations with several Nutley youths now in college, Rogers said the students shared that, “their fear was not about cops in schools [but rather] about who in schools would be handling guns” and concern about how cops are portrayed by the media and movies showing them as “violent and shooting people.”

“Having cops in schools is great,” Rogers said, not only because they’re trained firearms pros but also because “students become friendly with them” and will open up to them. “They’re going to see if a student is depressed, then talk to them – that’s how you prevent possible violence.”

Beyond that, Rogers said, the situation “boils down to how much time we’re going to give a shooter to use his weapon to kill people … we have to use common sense. And if districts don’t want teachers armed, then fine but then, as an alternative, use trained cops or military personnel to protect our staff and students.”

Learn more about the writer ...