Hundreds of people turned out Tuesday night for a forum on school safety strategies that featured police brass, parents, community leaders and security experts.
Topics at the forum at Hofstra University included preparing for active shooters, coping with drug overdoses, cyber bullying and medical advice for traumatic injuries.
Police officials said seventy-five percent of school shootings happen in under five minutes, and take place after the assailant has scouted the grounds and has sometimes been inside the school.
The first person the shooter goes after during the shooting is the officer or security guard on duty, police said.
“It’s no longer if it happens, but when it happens,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told an audience of about 1,000 people during the session at the Davis Mack Arena.
While stressing his department is well prepared, Ryder later dialed back his comments, saying the odds of a student getting shot in a school is 1 in 65 million.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke about the need to crackdown on opioid abuse, telling the audience: “If you’re not a part of the conversation, you’re not a part of the solution and we need you involved.”
She cited “Operation Natalie,” which started in February, and is a program designed to fight opioid addiction by using the latest overdose mapping technology to target and prosecute drug dealers, while getting treatment for drug addicts and prevention information to their families.
Curran said police are making inroads to protect students from shootings by increasing response time, having officers visit a variety of schools to learn the grounds and equipping schools with a cellphone app called RAVE, which alerts police to school shootings.
Many of those in attendance were from the community.
Valley Stream resident Sean Dino Johnson, 54, said he works for a non-profit organization focusing on gang intervention.
“I wanted to learn about what information was coming down the pipeline,” Johnson said. “Information is key.”
He added, “violence is something that can be combated. It’s all about education in schools and educating law enforcement and the community.”
Nicole Johnson, 42 of Uniondale, said she felt compelled to bring her 15-year-old daughter to the forum Tuesday night.
“Having a teenage daughter, she needs to be here,” Johnson said.