Suffolk County prepares for the unthinkable in the wake of gun violence around the country.
Pictured from left to right: Bellone, West Babylon’s superintendent of schools Yiendhy Farrelly, SCPD commissioner Geraldine Hart and police chief Stuart Cameron.
SUFFOLK COUNTY—Officials recently announced a series of upcoming active-shooters drills in the event of a mass shooting.
The first of this series will be held at a West Babylon school later this month. The focus, officials say, will be to test the new initiative SHARE (Sharing to Help Access Remote Entry), which links schools to police headquarters.
This publication reported on the program earlier this summer in the article “County’s SHARE initiative links schools to police,” published on June 27, 2019.
For the first time during a drill, personnel in the department’s Real Time Crime Center will connect into the school’s closed-circuit TV camera systems to advise responding officers of the “mock threat,” officials said.
The drill, which officials say has yet to be given a date or location within the West Babylon School District, will also utilize the RAVE panic button, a mobile app that delivers “critical data” to 911 dispatchers and first responders if an emergency situation occurs.
Jason Elan, a spokesperson for Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, said that in using these various programs, police officers will be “directed to the nearest entrance and let into the building by remotely controlling the doors.”
Elan added that once other schools are connected with the Suffolk County Police Department through SHARE, similar drills would be conducted in other school districts to “familiarize both the schools and officers with the technology.”
The department also plans to partner with big-box stores and religious institutions for active-shooter drills and will explore video-sharing capabilities with Suffolk County’s small businesses, officials previously stated.
Elan said the county already has “several connections to religious institutions” and is “actively searching for recently closed box stores where we can use the facility for training purposes.”
Bellone stated, earlier this month, the “crisis” of mass shootings is “due, in part, to [the] dysfunction we have seen in Washington.”
These comments were made a few days after the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, which killed 10 and 22 people, respectively. The death count in Ohio includes the perpetrator.
Bellone said mass shootings like these are “not normal,” but many people “sense and feel the danger of [them] becoming normal.” He then urged leaders in Washington to “come together and pass common-sense gun safety legislation.”
When asked what other factors the county executive feels are contributing to mass shootings, other than what some consider to be lax gun laws, Elan reiterated the need for Washington to pass “common-sense gun safety laws.”
The spokesperson also referred to additional comments that Bellone made regarding what is “being done locally” to help combat mass shootings.
“The bottom line here is that we have to prepare for every situation and every scenario, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Bellone stated. “Our obligation is to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep residents safe, God forbid one of these active-shooter scenarios should happen here.”
The county executive added that these training exercises, which give officers “real-world situations,” would continue as long as the threat remains.