TRENTON, N.J. – The state Assembly is poised to pass yet another clean-up bill Thursday, this time amending a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy that would have left school children and seniors vulnerable to attack.
The bill (S2912) will amend the current law to allow plain-clothes officers at schools and senior citizen centers that are polling locations. Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin welcomes the reversal.
“We told Democrats so, from day one, that removing police from schools and senior centers was a bad idea. They ignored us, ignored common sense, and now here we are,” McGuckin (R-Ocean) said. “I’ve lost count of how many times in recent memory we’ve had to go back and clean up their messes. It’s a waste of time.”
Back in January, the governor signed the Democrat-backed bill that, except in an emergency, banned police officers from within 100 feet of polling locations and drop boxes. Schools and senior citizen centers often serve as voting stations in special and general elections. The ban came at the behest of voting rights and social justice advocates complaining that police presence intimidates some people of color, former convicts and parolees.
But now, after an outcry from parents, school districts, and the public, the Assembly will vote to allow plain-clothes police officers to be present during elections at the request of a school district or senior citizen center. The bill also stipulates that police may not interfere with voters, and also requires schools that serve as polling places to create security plans that keep the public from accessing students.
The Senate unanimously passed the cleanup bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Holzapfel, back in June.
“Democrat logic goes something like this: some people supposedly won’t vote if they see a police officer at the polling location, so we need to get rid of the police. At the same time, it’s dangerous to allow the public access to the inside of public schools during regular school hours, except Election Day,” McGuckin added. “Republicans argued from the start that we must protect our children first. To Democrats, they were an afterthought.”