North Bergen uses elementary school to host intensive active shooter drill

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Nearly a dozen law enforcement agencies were in North Bergen this morning as the township hosted an active shooter drill at the Robert Fulton Elementary School.

In footage from inside the building sent to the media, students are shown being evacuated from the building, being treated for fake injuries, and in one instance, an officer taking down a potential gun man.

The drill, which began at 11 a.m. was followed by a press conference by local officials, including Police Chief Robert Dowd and state Senator (D-32)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco.

“This drill that we conducted today, done in cooperation with the board of education, is without a doubt the largest drill we’ve ever done here. And, like JP said, is without question the largest drill that’s ever been done in Hudson County – probably even the state,” explained Dowd.

“This was a multi-agency response today of what would be an absolutely terrible, critical incident to occur. We know that studies have shown over the last decade that a quarter of all active shooter incidents have occurred in an educational environment.”

Sacco said the drill was crucial to helping identify the security risks inside the school, such as the fact that there are no security cameras in the stairwell entering the building.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter was also pleased with the joint effort between the board of education and the police department.

“I think today was a great effort between, a joint force between the police department and the board of education. We do drills every month: fire drills, active shooter drills, we do evacuation drills, but not to this level,” explained Solter.

“This level was needed to make sure we’re ready and where we have to learn.”

During a question and answer session with the media, Dowd said that the drill proved that the protocols in place work, but there is always room for improvement.

Dowd also added that as long as he is police chief, he does not want the department interfering with the day to day operations of the schools.

“The number one priority of what goes on at the school is education, okay? The last thing this police department wants to do, as long as I’m the chief here, is interfere with the education environment,” stated Dowd, who added that the department has school resource officers who visit the facilities routinely.

“And we’re here as a resource. If they call us, if they think there’s a problem and they need us to come in, speak with someone, interact, help out: we’re there. I’m not just gonna jump on the bandwagon and say we need armed people in the school.”

The other agencies involved with the active shooter exercise included the West Orange Police, West New York and Fairview Police Departments, North Bergen Emergency Medical Services, North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense at Picatinny Arsenal, and the U.S. Federal Air Marshals.

Other agencies providing support included the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the North Bergen Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey State Police and University Hospital.

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