Suffolk County Executive Bellone, Police Commissioner Hart Announce School Safety Plan Ahead Of Back To School
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced a multi-pronged plan designed to increase school safety and reduce response times for emergency personnel ahead of the start of the 2018-2019 School Year. The latest initiatives are in addition to several public safety measures recently undertaken by Suffolk County to ensure students, teachers, administrators and staff remain safe while in schools.
“With the start of school just around the corner, school safety is on the top of everyone’s mind,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “These new initiatives are part of our continued efforts to enhance public safety and we are committed to providing not only our teachers, faculty and staff with tools to protect our students, but also providing our first responders and police officers with the tools needed to help them efficiently and effectively do their job. We will continue to engage with all stakeholders and work in tandem with our school superintendents, our first responders, police officers, and community members to ensure safety.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department is committed to ensuring that our children will continue to be safe in their schools and we are always looking to improve upon our strategies and make the necessary adjustments as to how we can best utilize our officers and enhance our presence in schools without disrupting the learning process,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. “Through these new initiatives, the Suffolk County Police Department will be able to respond more quickly and effectively in the event that an emergency takes place.”
Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez said: “As Chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee and former educator, the safety of our children and all of Suffolk County residents is a serious matter to address. I applaud our Police Department for their efforts in safeguarding our schools. The new initiatives issued by the County will provide greater protection for our students, teachers, administrators, and provide parents with an additional level of comfort knowing there are mechanisms in place in the event of an emergency.”
Dr. Yiendhy Farrelly, Secretary of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association and Superintendent of the West Babylon School District said: “As a school district superintendent, my top priority is to address and support the academic, social and emotional needs of our students. In order to do so, they need to be in a safe environment. I’d like to thank the SCPD and County Executive Steve Bellone for their continued collaboration with school district leadership. We look forward to continuing this partnership to make certain our schools are a safe place for all students, faculty and staff.”
The new initiatives include enhanced patrols to school buildings across Suffolk County to further develop relationships and emergency response plans, assigning additional officers to the SCPD’s Homeland Security Section to assess and evaluate school security, establishing a new mobile phone line that allows residents to confidentially “text a tip” to report activity pertaining to threats at school facilities, and a School Resource Officer Training Course.
The Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) is in the process of preforming outreach to school districts and private schools throughout the County to provide schools with their precinct information as well as the SCPD’s plan to make an increased amount of visits to schools throughout the year. SCPD sergeants and police officers will coordinate unannounced, high-visibility visits to schools, baring no objections from the school districts, during school hours and non-disruptive times. The purpose of the enhanced patrol visits is to further develop relationships with security staff, greeters and administrative staff present at each school. SCPD officers will also use these visits to familiarize themselves with the layout of each school building, such as using mobile tablets to review floor plans, and address any questions from school staff. The visits will continue throughout the school year, and schools will be visited on a recurring basis.
As part of the school safety plan, the SCPD’s Homeland Security Section will add two additional officers that will be assigned to school safety related matters. The additional staffing will enhance the Department’s ability to proactively visit schools throughout the County to assess and evaluate school security systems and afterwards review them with school district personnel, allowing officers to further hone in on school safety.
Starting in September, the Suffolk County Police Department will also be conducting a full-week course for current officers to enroll in School Resource Officer School. The course, which will be taught at the Police Academy, will provide officers with the necessary information in order for them to become familiar with the wide variety of duties performed by School Resource Officers (SROs). This strategy will enable current officers to be further educated and allow the additional officers to augment the SRO Program when possible. The goals of well-founded SRO programs include providing safe learning environments in schools, providing valuable resources to school staff members, fostering positive relationships with youth, developing strategies to resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students so that they are able to reach their full potential.
Additionally, the SCPD plans to have a “text a tip” line in place prior to the start of the school year that will allow residents to confidentially share any information pertaining to a crime or illegal activity in schools.
The latest initiatives are in addition to several public safety measures recently undertaken by Suffolk County to ensure school safety. Recent initiatives include the RAVE Panic Mobile application which provides a stratum of features, all designed to dramatically enhance the County’s police and first responders’ ability to effectively react and respond to active shooter events and other emergency situations and the S.H.A.R.E initiative which allows school districts the ability to connect their existing CCTV camera systems directly to the Suffolk County Police Department, fostering greater collaboration and information sharing so that police officers will be directed towards specific entry points and locations in a school building to neutralize or prevent an incident from occurring in a much more rapid manner.