Following student protests, Cherry Hill mayor favors armed security in schools

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Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn joins the more than 200 in attendance at the Cherry Hill school board meeting Tuesday night, where a long list of speakers sounded off about school security and administrative gaffes at Cherry Hill East High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn joins the more than 200 in attendance at the Cherry Hill school board meeting Tuesday night, where a long list of speakers sounded off about school security and administrative gaffes at Cherry Hill East High School. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, massacre two weeks ago that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students, parents, and staff in our region are voicing concerns about security in their schools. One of them was Cherry Hill East High School history teacher Timothy Locke, who was suspended after he suggested to his students last week that their school was potentially vulnerable to attack.

Locke’s suspension has led to verbal clashes between students and administrators and spurred a contentious board of education meeting Tuesday night. Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn, who attended that meeting, spoke  Wednesday with NewsWorks Tonight Host Dave Heller.

“I think really the main message that I heard was that [students] do not feel safe,” said Cahn. “So it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make them feel safe every single day.”

Cahn said that could include placing armed security at Cherry Hill schools, as has been suggested by Police Chief William Monaghan.

“We agree with that, we being myself and township council,” said Cahn. “So could it happen? That is really a decision for the board … I made that clear last night to the residents and to the board, that it is a decision that myself and council support. We hope that the board … would support that as well.”

Cahn added that the majority of parents at the meeting seemed to support the move.

While Cahn supports arming campus police, and even augmenting them with active and retired police, he does not support arming teachers. That notion was raised by President Donald Trump last week.

“I don’t think that’s the role of the teacher, and I think that puts more danger and more people in harm’s way,” said Cahn. “And I would certainly not ask a teacher who is there to educate our children to make that decision to have to shoot somebody.”

Cahn declined to address Locke’s suspension directly, but he expressed confidence that the board of education will conduct a proper investigation.

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