BERKELEY— The same technology that helped SEAL Team 6 locate and kill Osama Bin Laden in 2011 will now assist law enforcement in Ocean County in the event of an active school shooter or other emergency that demands a rapid response to save lives.

Several school districts have signed on to a program, announced Wednesday by the county prosecutor's office, that can provide law enforcement with complete blueprints of school grounds, right down to the smallest closet. It allows for a response plan based on pictures and grids, so officers unfamiliar with the building can easily locate a shooter or respond to victims.

With all agencies utilizing the same graphic — which can be viewed on a smart device, a police car's computer, or just a piece of paper — everyone's on the same page. The shooter is located in grid square E3, for example, instead of the cafeteria.

At the same time, first responders' movements and locations are transmitted in real time to the command center.

"I think it's changing the face of law enforcement and also bringing safety to the community," said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, prior to an exercise at Central Regional High School that showed the system in action.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (Vin Ebenau, Towsnquare Media NJ)

The prosecutor's office purchased the service, but it's up to schools and other entities to come up with funds in order to have their grounds mapped. Coronato said the financial impact is minimal.

It's his hope that not only schools, but municipalities and locations that host large gatherings, jump on board with the concept.

"We're having our court house done. I’m having people walk through the court house, identifying each closet, each room," he said.

Participating schools/districts

  • Central Regional District
  • Jackson School District
  • Manchester School District
  • Stafford School District
  • Toms River high schools
  • Berkeley School District

The Brick and Point Pleasant Beach school districts are in the initial phase of participation.

Berkeley Township Police Chief Karin DiMichele, who helped bring the initiative to Ocean County, said the technology will be used only for the purpose of response. Officers should have no fear of "big brother" watching their every move.

"Once you see what it can do, and the benefits of the school and the safety and the response time, I don't see how you can't buy into it," DiMichele said.

Coronato said the technology is the result of the military spending more than a decade and billions of dollars in fighting the global war on terror.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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