Lawmaker urges emergency system in schools

David Antar, president of A+ Technology Solutions in David Antar, president of A+ Technology Solutions in Bay Shore, shows the inside of a mobile security center during a safety forum for school administrators at the Huntington Hilton. Schools can rent the mobile security center. (Jan. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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A Suffolk legislative committee chairwoman is pushing for a study of whether all schools in the county should be required to install emergency notification systems linking them directly with police.

In the wake of last month's Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting that killed 26 people, county Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she'd like to see a local notification system that can immediately connect schools with the police during life-threatening events.

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Anker said she'll introduce a bill next month to require the police department within 120 days to complete a feasibility study addressing cost and technical issues.

"Before we jump into this, we need to find out exactly how it can be done, how much it's going to cost and who can pay for it," said Anker, head of the Education Committee.

Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said the police department already is considering a hotline system that would allow school officials to pick up a dedicated phone and instantly be linked to a police dispatch supervisor, rather than having to dial 911. He said such a system is preferable to silent panic alarms that don't explain the emergency.

Connetquot Central school Superintendent Alan Groveman said the concept "has the potential for good if the training and explanation are crystal clear," though he warned that cost could be an issue."If the county is going to install at their cost, fine, but if we have to assume another cost, it's going to be problematic because of the tax cap we're already under.

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