Earlier today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced a series of upcoming active shooter exercises highlighting the department’s continuous effort to prepare for a mass shooting.
The first of this latest series will be held at a West Babylon school later this month. The focus will be to test the new initiative SHARE—Sharing to Help Access Remote Entry, which links schools to police headquarters. 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 (CCTV) camera systems to advise responding officers of the mock threat. The drill will also utilize the RAVE Panic Button, a mobile app that delivers critical data to 9-1-1 dispatchers and first responders if an emergency situation arises.
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.
VIDEO of the County Executive’s remarks are available here.
A rush transcript of the County Executive's remarks is available below:
Good morning. Thank you for joining us here at Suffolk County Emergency Services Headquarters. We have a crisis on our hands, its due in part to dysfunction we have seen in Washington. We’ve watched in horror now as two more mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso have occurred in our nation. More innocent American lives were lost at the hands at weapons of war, and I know that the people of Suffolk County continue to express their sorrow to the grieving families of Dayton and El Paso, and to the communities who are grappling with these unthinkable acts that have occurred. And of course this is not normal though we sense and feel the danger of this becoming normal. It is incumbent because of that on all of our leaders in Washington to come together to pass common sense gun safety legislation.
To act, our federal government has a responsibility to us abroad and here at home, and right now we have too many of these mass shootings. We have an epidemic of mass shootings in our country. In fact, when you have a shooting where just a few lives are lost or one or two people and the rest are injuries, it oftentimes doesn’t even merit coverage in the news because it’s so common place. That’s the point that we have reached in our country and that’s why this is a crisis, this is an epidemic. People are frightened. We’ve all saw the scenes in Times Square where just a sound that sounded like a gunshot sent thousands of people running creating an incredibly dangerous and chaotic scene. It gives you the sense of the kind of chaos that can be created now by actors who are up to no good in our communities and in our cities.
And now when you have organizations like Amnesty International and other nations issuing travel warnings about congregating in public places like churches and public shopping centers in our country, you know that something is seriously wrong here. But we’re not going to wait for Washington to act here, we never have, we never will, but particularly when it comes to issues of public safety, we are going to be focused like a laser on doing everything that we can to protect the citizens of this county. And God forbid should an active shooter situation occur here, to make sure that we are responding as quickly and effectively as possible to save lives.
In furtherance of that goal I’m announcing today, along with our police commissioner Geri Hart, our First Deputy Commissioner Jim Skopek, Chief of Department Stuart Cameron, and members of our emergency services section announcing a series of upcoming live shooter training exercises, part the Suffolk County Police Department’s ongoing efforts to protect and keep safe the citizens of this county should, God forbid an active shooter situation occur.
The first of this upcoming series will be held at West Babylon School District, and I’m proud to have the Superintendent of West Babylon School District, Dr. Yiendhy Farrelly, who has been incredibly proactive in this district on working together with the county to institute a series of safety measures. The focus of this exercise is going to be testing our S.H.A.R.E. initiative, which stands for sharing to help access to remote entry, which links school and their cameras to police headquarters and Commissioner Hart will go into more detail on the technology.
The Police Department will also be following this school live training exercise with similar exercises at communities of faith, religious based institutions, and at shopping centers big box stores. This follows a series of initiatives and training exercises that we have already conducted. In addition to that we obviously take very seriously the obligation to protect our own employees. To date we’ve held 26 active shooter training exercises or classroom training exercises in the county, training nearly nineteen hundred Suffolk County employees. They’ve been held at the Dennison building and at the legislative auditorium at Hauppauge and also in Great River. There are two more scheduled trainings in the legislature auditorium next Monday August 12th and Tuesday August 13th with subsequent trainings in Yaphank in order to train those employees who work on the East End of our Police District.
As part of the County training we’ve also had active shooting trainings at police headquarters for civilians of the Police Department. So far more than 260 civilians in the Police Department have been trained at one the trainings held so far at the police headquarters or the police academy and additional seminars are scheduled.
The bottom line here is that we have to prepare for every situation and every scenario and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our obligation is to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep residents safe should God forbid one of these active shooters scenarios should happen here. And that means we’re going to continue these training exercises, live training exercises, that give our officers real world situations that we have seen, that our department, that Chief Cameron, that others have studied and analyzed from these active shooters situations that have occurred around the country and even around the world, to put those officers in a real world environment and to be connected to our partners.
First and foremost in our school districts. There’s no greater obligation than to keep our kids safe, so starting here testing the S.H.A.R.E. program that gives us eyes on the school, inside the school, in an emergency situation, that is the right place to be starting because our most fundamental obligation will be making sure we’re protecting our kids when they’re in schools. And again want to thank Dr. Farrelly for her leadership.