With kids heading back to school across NJ, school security is at the forefront of most parents’ minds. They may be relieved to know that Gov. Phil Murphy announced a $6.5 million investment in American Rescue Plan funds toward a statewide school security initiative that will collect and digitize school building blueprints and make them available to first responders.

Currently, New Jersey first responders have access to Collaborative Response Graphics (CRG) for approximately 1,500 of the state’s 3,000 public and private schools. The initiative unveiled by the governor helps the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) and the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) map the remaining 1,500 schools in an effort to further safeguard New Jersey students and educators.

These maps will be especially important for law enforcement personnel who may not be familiar with the layout of each and every school building. Once the schematics for every 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.

“With the epidemic of gun violence reaching every part of our communities, including our schools, we offer our families not empty promises, but concrete investments in tools and resources that will keep our students safe,” Murphy said. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and the educators who help our children achieve their full potential. In order to protect our children and educators, we must equip our first responders with the most up to date 21st-century technology so that they can respond to emergencies without unnecessary delay.”

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin agrees, noting that having school building floor plans will protect the lives of children and educators.

“By investing in digital blueprint mapping software for every K-12 school in New Jersey, both law enforcement and school administrators will have the information they need to act swiftly and with precision,” he said.

The important factor is to address crisis situations in real time. Every minute counts during a school emergency, said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of Education.

“The New Jersey State Police has more than 100 schools in State Police-patrolled areas where we have a consistent uniformed presence to ensure the safety of students and staff,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Ensuring that our children and school personnel are safe will always be an important part of our ongoing mission, and this new initiative will undoubtedly assist law enforcement during emergent times by affording first responders the resources to work quickly and more efficiently.”