NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Monday signed legislation (S721), strengthening the state’s threat response infrastructure by enhancing security requirements for large venues.
The legislation requires certain public venues and places of worship to submit emergency plans to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of preparing for mass casualty and active shooter events.
“As we wake up to the reality of another mass shooting in America, this time at the University of Virginia, it is clear that we must do everything in our power to protect our communities and our residents from the senseless gun violence that plagues our country,” Murphy said. “The gun violence epidemic underscores the critical need for state, local, and community partners to work together to ensure the highest standards of public safety are being met. This legislation will enhance security requirements for New Jersey’s public venues and places of worship so that law enforcement agencies can be best prepared to handle threats and respond to emergencies.”
This bill requires sports and entertainment facilities capable of seating more than 5,000 people, movie theaters capable of seating more than 1,000 people, and places of worship capable of seating more than 500 people to annually prepare and maintain an emergency operations plan in coordination with the appropriate local fire, law enforcement, and emergency response agencies. The emergency operations plan must be submitted to the chief law enforcement officer who serves the municipality in which the sports and entertainment facility, movie theater, or place of worship is located.
“Our response to gun violence must remain proactive, not reactive,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.” Security plans play an important role in how quickly and effectively law enforcement can respond to emergencies, and protect the safety of our residents. By requiring public spaces – including our often targeted houses of worship – to prepare effective emergency procedures, our officers will have the information they need to act swiftly and with precision, which could undoubtedly help save lives.”
“When responding to an active shooter or mass casualty incident, officers are forced to make a variety of critical decisions. The time for developing a policy is prior to the event, not during, which is why the signing of this legislation is so crucial,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The requirements set forth in this bill will enable law enforcement agencies to minimize response times to critical incidents, eliminate threats, and provide aid to those in need.”
“This is a significant step forward in resiliency efforts for the State of New Jersey,” said New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Laurie R. Doran. “New Jersey continues to be at the forefront of national efforts for preparedness and joint response. This bill will further enhance our capabilities of strategic planning and cooperation to deter and defend against an ever-evolving threat landscape.”
Primary sponsors of the legislation include Senators Richard Codey and Joseph Cryan, and Assemblymembers Gary Schaer, Britnee Timberlake, and Joe Danielsen.