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Schaer, Timberlake & Danielsen Bill to Improve Emergency Response in Case of Mass Casualty, Active Shooter at Public Venue or Place of Worship Clears Assembly Panel

To help law enforcement agencies train and prepare for mass casualty or an active shooter situation, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee approved a measure on Thursday to require annual submissions of emergency operations plans by public venues and places of worship.

Under the bill (A-1257), a copy of the plan – filed with the municipal emergency management coordinator and chief law enforcement officer – would need to include the building plans or building layout, which identify the internal and external access routes.

The bill sponsors issued the following statements:

Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic):  “Through this legislation, our emergency responders and communities of faith would build proactive partnerships to increase public safety. Emergency response plans that include building layouts allow our law enforcement personnel to effectively resolve any threats. I will continue to fight so every New Jersey resident can worship without fear.”

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic):  “Preparedness is key for a swift response to any emergent situation. Putting building blueprints in the hands of law enforcement in addition to local fire and emergency response agencies ahead of time ensures our coordinated response is as effective as it can be, should the worst-case scenario happen. Everyone should be able to freely live and worship without fear. This is a basic founding principle of our country.”

Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset):  “With the number of bias incidents in New Jersey reported to be up by 65 percent, the time for this bill has never been more appropriate. Extending access to building plans to law enforcement is critical for quick response and would be in the best interest of public safety for all our communities.”

Sports and entertainment facilities able to seat more than 5,000 people, movie theaters able to seat 1,000 people, and places of worship able to accommodate 500 people or more would need to provide plans under the legislation.

The measure now heads to the Speaker for further review.