Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference last Thursday that schools will see a higher police presence, officers will have new emergency tools and a digital panic button is now accessible in all districts.
“We in Nassau County are ready. We are ready to open schools and are working very closely with our superintendents and our principals,” Curran said. “Our shared goal is to make sure that this school year, the opening of school is as safe as it could be.”
Curran said that all buildings have been assessed for security and all personnel in school buildings have been trained by the Police Department on what to do when there is an an active shooter.
The Rave app, which serves as a smartphone-based emergency alert system that can alert the police immediately of a mass shooting or other emergency, is active in all 56 public school districts in Nassau and almost all private schools, Curran said.
“The Rave app, if you don’t know, helps to reduce response time in the occasion of active shooters or another kind of emergency,” Curran said. “Since the year 2000, 75 percent of school shootings have happened within a period of five minutes.”
Curran said that the county has made sure that Nassau police officers visit schools regularly to learn the layout and develop a familiarity with the school so police do not “walk in blind” during an emergency.
Ryder said that the Police Department’s response time to the recent shooting near Roosevelt High School was a sign of how successful training has been for the new school year. Ryder reported that athletes training on the field were placed inside the high school immediately, automated robocalls were sent out around the area and police responded “within seconds” and surrounded the assailant’s home.
Ryder said that opening day for school districts will see a higher police presence.
“We prepare, we train, we integrate technology like the Rave app and we are prepared, but we need to do more,” Ryder said. “What’s going to happen on opening day you will see a large amount of law enforcement personnel out there, both in our villages and cities and in Nassau County.”
Ryder said some police officers patrolling school districts will be in uniform and others in plainclothes.
Police cars are now mandated to visit a school at least once a day so when an incident occurs they know the superintendent, security guards and how to navigate the building, Ryder said.
He said new tools have been added to police cars. All police officers have been trained and will now carry tourniquets to treat wounds and a breaching tool to break through glass and force open locked doors.
The police commissioner closed his remarks by saying that about “42 percent” of people who have suspicions about a person who can be a danger to the community do not reach out to the police.
“We need you to engage, we need you to get involved, we need you to speak to us,” Ryder said. “If you know somebody that is a concern for you if that person is a concern, let us do our job. We’ll do the investigation, we’ll keep you anonymous, but we’ll make sure that kids going to school are safe.”