Less than two months after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, Nassau County introduced a task force that plans to promote preparedness for potential threats to schools and other public buildings.
District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the establishment of the Nassau County School and Community Safety Task Force on March 27, and held the force’s inaugural meeting immediately after the announcement. Citing the recent mass shooting as a reason to stay focused on public safety, Singas said that this force is a crucial step towards opening a communication network between community leaders and local law enforcement.
“This task force,” Singas said, “will bring stakeholders together to tear down communication barriers and ensure Nassau is taking a proactive approach to prevent these senseless crimes.”
Some of the task force’s goals are to explore how Nassau County schools and colleges share information about potential threats with local law enforcement, and to figure out how to protect places of worship from hate crimes.
Although its member list is not finalized, Joyce Smith, the deputy executive assistant district attorney for community relations, will be the force’s chairwoman. The force currently lists a diverse cast of 30 community members, from Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder to Massapequa teacher Tomia Smith. Other groups represented in the force are mental health professionals, private lawyers and religious leaders.
At the inaugural meeting, the task force watched presentations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Nassau County Police Department, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and a privacy law expert. They also heard concerns and remarks from Nassau County high school students and school leaders.
The task force will be broken up into committees to focus on different topics, such as law enforcement collaboration and privacy issues, and then issue its full report at the end of 2018.
Dr. David Flatley, the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents president and a task force member, said that the task force is an important opportunity for the county to develop protocols to keep the county’s schools safe.
“I applaud District Attorney Singas for organizing the School and Community Safety Task Force,” Flatley said. “and I look forward to working with County Executive Curran, Commissioner Ryder and other members of the leadership of our county in the coordination of these critical resources.”
Any community member can also contribute to the task force by submitting his or her questions, concerns or comments to www.nassausafety.org.