Huntington officials are rolling out new security measures and technology at town hall and other venues in an effort driven by the nationwide rise of mass shootings at public buildings.
The most visible change is a screening system that debuted Aug. 15 at town hall. Upon arrival, visitors now must have a government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license, scanned before being granted entry. Children with adults will be allowed in without having to have their picture taken or showing ID.
Huntington officials said that, like many local schools and governments, they are pursuing more stringent measures in direct response to mass shootings in public places, such as those in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida.
“With everything that is going on in the world, it is very important that we in Huntington do all we can to ensure the safety of our employees and visitors to town hall,” town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said in a statement last week. “Adding security cameras and clearly identifying who is in our building will help act as a deterrent to those who might want to cause harm and will help us know who is in town hall, and where, if there is a crisis.”
Huntington isn’t alone in asking for identification: Islip and Brookhaven also have ID-scan systems in place for visitors, and Oyster Bay officials said they are considering a similar program. Many school districts, including Northport-East Northport, have also started requiring visitors to show identification.
Instead of asking visitors to sign in and out on paper, Huntington’s new system uses the scan of a visitor’s identification to print out a disposable badge. Visitors then scan the badge and drop it in a box as they exit.
The process makes a record of arrival and departure times, and a visitor’s destination within town hall. In an emergency, this would give officials a real-time record of how many people needed to be accounted for, and where they were supposed to be in the building, officials said.
The system also includes an expansion of the town’s surveillance camera network. Huntington has installed 84 new and replacement cameras around town, including at town hall, the wastewater treatment plant and the town bus garage.
All footage will eventually be monitored from a control room in town hall. Officials plan to add more cameras at town hall, Dix Hills Park, the Village Green Senior Center and Crab Meadow Beach, with cameras at more locations in the future.
Huntington hired Massapequa-based IntraLogic Solutions Inc., to consult on the town’s security strategy. Lee Mandel, the company’s chief executive, said industry demand has increased significantly in recent years — helping IntraLogic grow to 65 employees, up from 15 in 2011.
Mandel said he’s seen a decrease in questions and complaints related to personal privacy and the ID scans.
“We used to get a lot of pushback on privacy issues, but since Sandy Hook, we don’t see that,” he said of the 2012 mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.
Huntington security upgrade, by the numbers
- 84 — New and replacement surveillance cameras at town hall and around Huntington
- 330 — average daily visitors to town hall last week
- $220,000 — Budgeted so far for the changes and additions