Long Island law enforcement and school officials, spurred by the South Florida shooting that left 17 dead Wednesday, say they are prepared to swiftly respond if a similar rampage takes place in Nassau or Suffolk schools.
David Flatley, superintendent of the Carle Place School District, said safety procedures put in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, may have saved many lives.
Flatley said educators have worked with police, parents and students to develop and practice drills to protect children if a shooting occurs at a Long Island school.
“We have drills where we relocate kids to another school,” Flatley said Thursday during a news conference at Carle Place High School that included Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “We have drills where we practice lockdowns, which are two different situations.
“We are all focused on the people who lost their lives yesterday, and we should be,” Flatley added. “We are grieving along with their families. But there is also the perspective of the good work that was done, that saved lots of people from harm.”
In Nassau, Ryder said officials at 40 of the county’s 56 school districts have access to the Rave Panic Button, a cellphone alert system that allows teachers or administrators to notify authorities about an active-shooter situation with the push of a button.
“It will give us the school location,” Ryder said. “Immediately we dispatch our cars there. We’re not waiting for the 911 call. Our cars are immediately out and running.”
The system also allows police to immediately access school security cameras so they can develop their response to a shooting as it unfolds, Ryder said.
“Our school districts and our police department are communicating,” Curran said. “We have the technology and we are going to make sure our cops have the resources they need to handle this sort of event.”
Suffolk police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said his department works with educators to determine who might be a threat to school safety.
Suffolk police have installed direct phone lines in 263 county schools so intelligence unit officers can speak directly to administrators during an emergency.
Officers in each Suffolk precinct are also equipped with tactical gear, including high-powered rifles and reinforced body armor in case they have to storm a school.
“I never wanted anyone in Suffolk County or any family in Suffolk County to have go through something like this,” Cameron said of the Florida shooting. “It has always been one of my highest priorities — one of my greatest concerns — that an event like this like this could happen here.”