According to the State of NJ website, Sussex County has the worst emergency response time of all 21 counties, at an average of 22 minutes. This can’t be completely attributed to Sussex County’s large size of 521 square miles, because other counties are larger and have much faster response times.
Atlantic County is larger at 561 square miles, with a response time twice as fast, at 11 minutes. Similarly, Ocean County is 636 square miles, with a response time of 14 minutes, and Burlington County is a whopping 805 square miles, with a response of only 12 minutes. The fact is, the closest swift response team to Sussex County is in Morris County. Anyone who has experienced traffic on Route 15 knows that we need to think about improving our alternatives.
As a centrally located town with nine schools (Alpine, Helen Morgan, Hilltop, Pope John, Reverend Brown, Sparta High, Sparta Middle, Sussex Tech and Veritas), it seems that Sparta has a clear responsibility to its residents.
With all due respect to Chief Spidaletto’s soothing words, the “man trap” at the entrance to Sparta High is only a trap to someone without a firearm. Outdoor sporting events, fairs, concerts, and grocery stores are, sadly, all vulnerable now as well.
In the interest of time and cost, perhaps Sparta police leadership could identify current officers with tactical training from military service, and build on their experience and training in conjunction with other Sussex County towns? Investing in additional tactical training of a few officers that are already patrolling seems like a logical, fast and cost-effective way to prepare for gun incidents like the recent active shooter manhunt on Route 15.