Executive Astorino: 'We Don't Have Money, But We Already Have The Answers'

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has launched a collaborative public safety initiative in response to last year’s shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Following the massacre that left 26 students and educators dead, Astorino said he discovered a serious disconnect.

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“Law enforcement talks among each other all the time. Educators talk among themselves all the time. They never talk together and if something happens, they’re all going to have to work together and they should know what to expect,” Astorino told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on Wednesday.

The Safer Communities initiative will also focus on enhancing mental health services.

“There is definitely a breakdown in the system and we need to identify what it is and fix it,” Astorino said.

The initiative would also improve school safety through using existing resources.

“It’s really aimed at bridging the gaps between strategies that kind of look good on paper and the real-time decision-making and actual responses in situations,” Astorino said. “We don’t have time and we don’t have money, but we already have the answers. They’re probably in a manual somewhere with dust on them.”

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Scarsdale Police Chief John Brogan said his officers know how to respond to a school shooting, but he added that there needs to be a stronger line of communication between police and schools.

“What we don’t get into often with the schools is tactics. And some of the tactics are frightening,” Brogan told Diamond.

“This is a unique and new problem and it’s going to require unique and new tactics,” Brogan told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Brogan said one example could be schools being urged to alter evacuation routes – too not lead students out in a routine or predictable way during an attack.

“Doing it the old fire drill way might actually be leading students into the path of a secondary attack,” Brogan said.

The Safer Communities initiative will formally kick off on Feb. 27 at a school safety symposium at SUNY Purchase to bring the two sides together. Astorino recruited former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton to be the main speaker at symposium.

Bratton served as the city’s top cop from 1994 to 1996.

The symposium will be followed by a community violence prevention forum focusing on mental health on April 9 at the Westchester County Center.

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