“We’re trying to focus on the ability to sense that something is wrong,” Skrynecki said. “We’ve had tremendous success with that here in Nassau County. In almost every one of these cases … there are some signs that somebody is going to do something horrible. And if somebody acts on that, we can intervene.”
The NCPD has investigated 23 cases of alleged threats against schools, and arrested and charged 16 people with making terroristic threats, since last January, according to Skrynecki. He also said that the department constantly monitors social networks like Twitter and Facebook for indications that someone is planning to attack a school.
Palma stressed the importance of “visitor control” in school buildings, technology use, coordination between the schools and police, and contingency planning. Problem-Oriented Police officers “come to our schools on a regular basis,” he said. “They do walkarounds, they check out the buildings, they make sure our lockdown-lockout procedures are appropriate. The Merrick schools, for elementary schools, probably have more cameras on site than really what I’m hearing in any other school district.”
Palma also announced plans to put a number of action items before the Merrick school board at Tuesday’s meeting, which would require board approval, including a possible contract with a security evaluation firm.
Responding to an audience member’s question about posting “safety officers” at Merrick schools, Skrynecki said that the NCPD has done that in other districts, but it does not see the need in Merrick. “We do have school resource officers in the Police Department,” he said. “Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at this — they’re not positioned here in the Merrick schools. They’re found in the schools where we typically have more gang violence and more serious problems.”
Turk-Goldberg said after the meeting that the Merrick School District has not done as much as other Nassau districts, such as Wantagh and Herricks, which hired elementary school guards after the Sandy Hook massacre.
“We want the doors to be manned,” Turk-Goldberg said. “We want a human patrolling the premises.”