Dozens of uniformed officers and recruits lined up outside of the Nassau Police Academy in Massapequa Park on Tuesday to show their support for the new School Resource Program, aimed at providing additional resources and manpower to school districts in the event of an active shooter situation.
Officers will now make regular daily rounds at all of the school buildings in each the 56 school districts in Nassau County. They will be working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, local village police and individual school districts to maximize the efficiency of their response to violent or gun-related incidents throughout the county.
“There’s 177 cars out there, and every single cop is mandated to visit a school building every day and walk the interior of the building with a school resource officer or school security officer,” said County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
“That cop will then be more familiarized with that location …They will be working with school security to ensure they know what to do in the event of a shooting.”
The announcement was made just minutes after reports of a shooting in a Maryland high school claimed the lives of three students, including the shooter.
“We’re going to have two officers from Homeland Security department working with our [community-oriented officers], also with our community affairs working hand-in-hand with our village police and of course our parents,” said County Executive Laura Curran.
“Gone are the days when we’re working in silos; we are collaborating so we can be as quick and responsive as possible in any emergency involving a school.”
Ryder also emphasized the use of the "RAVE" system that police have in place at 40 of the county's 56 school districts.
RAVE is a smartphone-based alert system that allows teachers or administrators to contact 911 operators instantaneously during emergencies by tapping an icon.
Police can then monitor school security cameras and access information to make their response quicker and more efficient.
“Never before has there been this kind of direct collaboration, and of course it’s to ensure the safety of our children in all of our school districts,” Curran continued.
“It’s a special challenge, seeing as there are 56 independent school districts here in Nassau County,” Curran continued. “It’s an extra challenge to our police and the village police to coordinate, but I’m very heartened and happy for the cooperation we’re getting from our school community.”
Several superintendents from districts across Nassau joined Curran and Ryder in welcoming the new safety program.
“Since 1999 in Columbine, we’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of gun violence in our schools,” said David Flatley, Carle Place superintendent, and president of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents.
“I guess there is a tipping point at some point people realize that enough is enough, and it’s time to maybe take school security to the next level.”
Flatley supported the county’s push for school safety, particularly in light of the day’s most recent example of school gun violence.
“I’m glad for the opportunity to have additional resources from the Nassau County Police Department,” he said. “They’ve always been great partners for our schools in Nassau County, and these added resources will certainly be welcome by the school districts.”
Ryder cited FBI statistics, saying about 70 percent of school shootings end within five minutes, while more than 50 percent of those, end within two minutes.
According to Ryder, Nassau County police response time to violent crimes in progress is three minutes to five minutes. “What we’re looking at is closing that gap, that 60-second gap,” said Ryder.
“When it comes to school shootings, we have to mitigate that time, slow down the defendant, and increase the response by [police].”
“We’re a bit ahead of the curve, but we’re nowhere near finished. This program is going to create a direct liaison, and we’re going to be able to mitigate that time and get there [sooner] to keep your children safe.”