Every Nassau school district will be assigned a designated police officer to improve security protocols, to coordinate a response plan for an active shooter event, and to be a point person when there are concerns about a student, county and law enforcement officials announced Tuesday.
The initiative is designed to improve police response time by about one minute during an emergency, said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
“When it comes to school shootings we need to mitigate that time,” Ryder said during a news conference at the Nassau Police Academy in Massapequa Park. “We need to slow down the defendant and to increase the response by the cop.”
Officers from Nassau’s Emergency Services & Homeland Security division, Community Affairs Office, Problem-Oriented Policing and Community Oriented Police Enforcement units and the Community Emergency Response Team will serve as direct liaisons to the county’s 56 school districts, said County Executive Laura Curran.
“Gone are the days where we are working in silos,” said Curran, adding that the program would use existing resources and had no additional cost to taxpayers. “We are collaborating to be as quick and responsive as possible in any emergency involving a school.”
The liaison would be tasked with learning the layout of every school in the district, Ryder said, including all points of entry, coordinating active shooter plans with school leadership, and serving as the designated representative if school officials have concerns about a particular student.
In addition, every Nassau police officer on patrol must visit a school at least once per weekday tour to walk the halls with a school resource officer or the school security officer, Ryder said.
The program is being rolled out in Nassau’s 450 public school buildings and will eventually expand to all private schools and colleges, he said.
David Flatley, superintendent of Carle Place School District, said the additional resources were needed.
Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 “we have witnessed a tremendous amount of gun violence in our schools,” said Flatley, who serves as president of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents. “There is a tipping point at some point and people realize that enough is enough and it’s time to take school security to the next level.”
On Monday, Nassau police trained 75 principals on how to respond to an active shooter, and an additional 75 will be trained March 26, Ryder said. Those lessons, he said, will extend to all superintendents, teachers, students and parents.
The county also is making progress with putting the Rave Panic Button system in all Nassau schools, Ryder said.
The cellphone alert system allows teachers or administrators to notify authorities about an active-shooter situation with the push of a button. Authorities can then monitor school security cameras and access information to make their response more effective.
To date, the system is operating in 120 buildings and 32 school districts, Ryder said.