New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed new legislation that requires all public and nonpublic schools in New Jersey to submit critical incident mapping data to local law enforcement in electronic format.

“We have seen, time and time again, public mass shootings taking place across our country. Providing our law enforcement and first responders with the critical incident mapping data will aid them in their efforts in case of an emergency at a school,” said Gov. Murphy.

“This administration, in partnership with our legislative partners, will continue to put the health and safety of our students first, and this is another step forward in our efforts to protect our students and teachers,” the governor pledged.

Back in August, Gov. Murphy announced the state would use $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward a statewide school security initiative to collect and digitize school building blueprints and make them available to first responders. The new bill requires each board of education, board of trustees, or chief school administrator to provide their local law enforcement authorities or designated law enforcement entities with critical incident mapping data for all schools and school grounds.

“This legislation will undoubtedly assist law enforcement during emergent times by providing first responders with an additional tool to work quickly and more efficiently,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The Critical Incident Mapping Legislation represents another step towards making our schools safer.”

According to the governor’s office, critical incident mapping data includes aerial images of schools; floor plans, including room and suite numbers; building access points; locations of hazardous materials and utility shut-offs; and any other relevant location information. Additionally, under the law mapping data must be updated as necessary and revised copies shall be provided to applicable or designated law enforcement entities. The bill will take effect immediately and first apply for the upcoming 2023-24 school year.

“Protecting students and teachers when they step into a school remains a top priority for the State of New Jersey as Governor Murphy has demonstrated with this latest bill signing,” said New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Laurie R. Doran. “Our team continues to closely collaborate with our law enforcement and education-sector partners statewide as we work to roll out this innovative mapping technology which will serve as a critical tool for first responders by equipping them with a basic visual understanding of a building, school or location. In the event we need to coordinate an emergency response, this measure can and will save lives.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs