SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Police are increasing their presence at some Long Island schools and they are doing it in an unusual way.
Twice a day, cops are dropping by for their shift changes.
When a cop pulls up to a school, it could be a sign something is wrong. In Suffolk County, police stops at schools are now part of the daily routine.
Suffolk police have launched a pilot program that designates certain schools as the meeting point for a patrol shift change.
The latest safety upgrade comes in the wake of several deadly school shootings across the U.S.
“Time is so critical. So this is an effort to have our patrol cars around the schools more regularly to reduce response time should something happen at the school,” Chief Stewart Cameron of the Suffolk County Police said.
A regular presence also familiarizes police with school layouts; a vital advantage when seconds matter in an active shooter situation.
Veteran officer Rob Trotta, now a local legislator first proposed the idea.
Trotta told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff that due of the county’s vast size, officers don’t return to precinct station houses for shift changes.
“They would go to a fire house. They needed that for a phone and a bathroom.”
Now, relief points and shift changes he says, can serve a better purpose.
“What better way to increase response time than to have the officers there twice a day, a deterrent effect,” Trotta adds.
Four school districts are part of the program. Others will get bi-monthly police visits, but the notion of cops in schools is not always popular.
Gov. Cuomo’s plan to place anti-gang state troopers in Long Island schools has stalled amid push-back from lawmakers.
Elwood schools superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert applauded the added safety, but said schools should have the right to opt out of the program if they suspect police are present for a “hidden agenda.”
Trotta says there is no hidden agenda; it’s only about safety. Police say they’ll only use districts that opt in to the voluntary program.