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Long IslandCrime

Top cops: Aim to ID potential shooters before they strike

When it comes to school shootings, Nassau and Suffolk County police commissioners say they are focused on preventive measures.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder on March

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder on March 5 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hours after the fatal mass shooting at a high school in Texas, the police commissioners for Nassau and Suffolk counties said measures are already in place to quickly stop a threat should a school shooting happen on Long Island.

The goal for both counties is to identify potential plots and respond faster.

“Our response time is three to five minutes,” said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, who was discussing security measures with top officials for President Donald Trump’s visit next week when he found out about the shooting in Santa Fe. “Since Columbine, 52 percent of shootings have been over in two minutes. We’re closing the gap on that 60-second difference.”

Both police departments have implemented extra measures since 17 were killed at a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February. They have increased patrols and weaponry while trying to stay in touch with residents who may have key information about potential school shooters before they execute their plan.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said patrols have increased, including those done by their canine unit. Officers now carry tactical gear and have more firepower, she said. And the department’s SHARE program, where police can tap into security cameras inside schools to get a visual on potential gunmen, is also gaining traction.

But despite that, Hart said, ultimately the way to prevent attacks is to report potential threats.

“If we can identify these individuals and act in a preventive manner, we’re going to do it. And that includes social media,” Hart said.

“These individuals make their intentions known either to family and friends,” Hart said. “All of us here always emphasize to the community that they’re the eyes and ears.”

In Nassau County, the Rave app, a cellphone alert system that allows teachers or administrators to notify authorities about an active-shooter situation with the push of a button, is already in 210 school buildings and is slated for eight more districts within the next two weeks, Ryder said.

And when there is an active shooter?

“We don’t wait for a negotiator. It’s not a hostage situation,” Ryder said. “Enter the building in diamond formation and stop the threat. Once you stop the threat, then you go back and take care of the victims.”

While principals and superintendents have drilled active-shooter situations, Ryder said intel before a shooter strikes is what makes the difference.

Ryder said a potential shooter who posted cryptic messages on social media was found to have three firearms in his home earlier this year.

“You will see over the next few days someone will say ‘I knew that kid was going to act out’ or ‘that kid had an anger issue’ or ‘I knew that kid was on drugs’ and they said nothing,” Ryder said. “People have got to stop keeping it to themselves with this info. They have to come forward.”

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