WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Just weeks after the Florida school shooting, Long Island educators continue their struggle to make schools safer.
Now, a collaborative effort with Suffolk County law enforcement may help calm nervous parents and students.
West Babylon is one of 69 school districts in the county and it’s among the first on board with new police plans aimed at getting more eyes inside schools in case a situation becomes dangerous, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“At the end of the day, we’re not talking about constant monitoring. We’re talking about in the event of an emergency, the police being able to immediately identify – is there a person of concern,” West Babylon Schools Superintendent Dr. Yiendhy Farrelly said.
The superintendent said the initiative, known as SHARE, will give districts like hers the ability to connect their existing closed circuit technology directly to the Suffolk County Police Department, both inside headquarters and with cops on the beat using tablets.
“We want to do everything we can to enhance the ability to respond,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday. “Anything we can do to cut down time – seconds matter.”
If schools opt-in, first responders will have shared information, allowing immediate direction to key points of entry and potentially dangerous locations.
McLogan asked Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron if this is an invasion of privacy.
“No. We have absolutely no intent of looking into the schools on a regular basis,” he replied. “In fact, there’s an accountability. When we access the cameras, they’ll be notified.”
President of the Superintendents Association of Suffolk County Lars Clemensen said he supports the plan.
“I can put armored tanks in front of every school, and lock every school down, and put steel doors on every school. We’re losing our American identity when that happens,” President of the Superintendents Association of Suffolk County Lars Clemensen told McLogan. “So we have to work with our law enforcement and let them do their jobs, so that we can do our jobs.”
Farrelly added, “we lose our way in society if safety is our only concern.” She said we must also re-double our efforts to help troubled students cope and persevere through challenges, rather than turn to violence.
School leaders will meet with county officials next week about participating in the camera-access program.