New NJ Bill Requires Certain Public Venues and Places of Worship to Develop Emergency Plans

On November 14, 2022, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Bill S721 into law. The legislation requires certain public venues and places of worship to submit emergency plans to their local law enforcement in preparation for a potential mass casualty or active shooter event. This applies specifically to sports and entertainment facilities with seating for more than 5,000 people, movie theaters with seating for more than 1,000 people, and places of worship with seating for more than 500 people. 

"Our response to gun violence must remain proactive, not reactive," Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said in the press release. "Security plans play an important role in how quickly and effectively law enforcement can respond to emergencies and protect the safety of our residents. By requiring public spaces — including our often-targeted houses of worship — to prepare effective emergency procedures, our officers will have the information they need to act swiftly and precisely, which could help save lives." 

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate (35-0) and by strong majority in Assembly (65-0-7). Supporters of the bill cited preparation before an event as crucial to reduce and eliminate threats and provide aid to those in need. 

“In these situations, every second matters and lives should not be lost due to first responders needing to figure out how to safely enter a building,” added Senator Richard Codey. “By having a plan in place for first responders, we can ensure that our officers are equipped with the expertise of how to best handle the active shooter threat and save more individuals from Injury or death." 

According to the bill Statement, the emergency operations plan must include, but are not limited to: “a copy of the building plans or building layout that identifies the internal and external access routes of the sports and entertainment facility, movie theater, or place of worship. The chief law enforcement officer is required to utilize the emergency operations plans to prepare and train for mass casualty and active shooter incidents at these venues.” 

Get the Support You Need During a Disaster Event 

While we hope to never experience a mass casualty or active shooter event, the unfortunate reality is these incidents are becoming more and more frequent. From 2017-2021, the FBI identified a 96.8% increase in the number of active shooter incidents, including an increase of 52.5% from 2020-2021. 

Including Disaster Management Services in your plans ensures that your municipality is fully prepared to reduce risk, coordinate resources, and receive assistance should such an event occur. 

The Garden State Municipal Joint Insurance Fund (GSMJIF) and Public Entity Joint Insurance Fund (PEJIF) are the only municipal JIFs in New Jersey that offer Disaster Management Services coverage designed specifically to respond to these mass casualty events.  

In the event of a mass casualty event, this coverage can provide services for our members, including: 

  • On-site Management & Incident Coordination 
    • Establish command center and coordinate medical services 
    • Coordinate resources and communication with applicable carriers 
    • Liaison between the command center and entity 
    • Communication between victims and immediate family members 
    • Coordinate travel and accommodation  
    • Repatriation (excess if other coverage is in existence, primary if not) 
    • Travel and evacuation 
    • Media management 
    • Translator services if needed 
    • Coordinate with State Department and/or U.S. Embassy if applicable 
    • Behavioral management services 
    • And more 
  • Family Assistance 
    • Liaison between the entity and each immediate family member 
    • Behavioral health services as needed 
    • Will deliver up-to-date communication to family every 2–4 hours, or more frequently as needed 
    • Assist with media management 
    • Coordinate travel and accommodation 
    • And more 

The limits available are $10 Million per Occurrence / $20 Million Annual Aggregate to all our members, with no deductibles or retentions. The coverage will respond “in the event of a sudden, unforeseen natural disaster or man-made catastrophe which affects five or more lives, results in multiple fatalities and/or injuries, and/or where the company is directly responsible for the population which is directly affected by the event.” Depending on the situation, services can be activated as quickly as within an hour of the event. 

As we know, preparation is key for any disaster, whether it be natural or manmade. Disaster Management Services should be part of any emergency plan to ensure seamless coordination of services and provide appropriate support for victims and their families as well as survivors. 

For more information about adding Disaster Management Services to your current policy, fill out a contact form or call us at (800) 446-7647 today.