The Belleville Board of Education Monday night hired former Belleville police captain and mayor Bill Escott as school security director to improve school safety in the aftermath of the Newton school shooting.
The changes may include armed school officers, Escott said.
School officials said the details of any changes and improvements to school security cannot be shared with the public because of the need to keep that information away from any potential criminals.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Helene Friedman and School Board President Peter Zangari, Jr. introduced Escott, who talked in general terms about what his role as a consultant will be.
Escott is working without a contract, and the pay rate is still being negotiated, school officials said.
"I first visited with all the school principals to talk about what our safety and security goals are," Escott said. "We are looking at adding armed security officers. I am happy to say that a lot of the immediate concerns are already being addressed. I thank the board for letting me serve the district."
Escott has met with Police Chief Joseph Rotonda and Lt. Victor Mesce about specific changes that may be needed.
Friedman and Zangari said this move was absolutely essential.
"We have to make sure we do everything we can to protect our children," Friedman said. "So we are hiring a security director to consult with us, and we have had talks with our police department. We need to step up our game I want to stress to parents that any concerns you may have, we are going to address."
Zangari said, "It is very important that we do everything we can to protect students. To quote Gov. Christie, I would rather ask for forgiveness than permission. There have already been changes made to make the district safer. The acts that happened in Newtown are horrific, and it is our job to provide protection. Bill Escott, with his experience with the police and security, is a good fit."
For anyone questioning spending money on security, Zangari said, "We cannot afford not to do this."
All the board members said they supported the move, and thanked Escott for joining the district.