Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed “Alyssa’s Law,” which will require public school buildings to be equipped with panic alarm linked to local law enforcement. The new law is named in honor of Alyssa Alhadeff, a New Jersey native who was killed on February 14, 2018 in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that claimed seventeen lives.
“Alyssa’s death is a stark reminder of the dangers of gun violence and the need for adequate school security measures,” said Governor Murphy. “In New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to prevent these tragedies from occurring within our borders.”
New School Security Requirements
Assembly Bill 764will require all public school buildings in New Jersey to be equipped with at least one silent panic alarm directly linked to local law enforcement for use in the event of a school security emergency. Each public elementary and secondary school building must also be equipped with a red emergency light that is linked to the school’s panic alarm and which turns on when the panic alarm is activated.
Under Alyssa’s Law,“emergency light” is defined as a red light that is affixed to the exterior of a school building in a highly visible location above or near the front entrance or, in the case of a school building which is not clearly visible from the nearest public roadway, located on that public roadway.Meanwhile, “panic alarm” means a silent security system signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life-threatening or emergency situation requiring a response from law enforcement.
The new school security law also sets out the following requirements:
- Each panic alarm and emergency light system must adhere to nationally recognized industry standards, including the standards of the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.
- Each panic alarm and emergency light system must be installed by a person licensed to engage in the alarm business in accordance with N.J.S.A. 45:5A-27.
- A school district may equip its elementary and secondary school buildings with an emergency mechanism that is an alternative to a panic alarm if the mechanism is approved by the Department of Education.
Under the new law, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority must adopt further rules and regulations to establish a program to effectuate the purposes of the law. Alyssa’s Law further provides that a portion of the proceeds of the bond funds authorized for school security projects under the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” which was enacted last November, will be used for the installation of panic alarms.
For more information about the school security requirements or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.