District Upgrades Security

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As students returned to classrooms for the 2018-2019 school year, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Giani and the Board of Education have been working diligently to upgrade and improve safety and security measures throughout the district. Although some of the measures are clearly visible, Dr. Giani noted that many throughout the district are not noticeable to the community.

“Our ultimate goal is to make our facilities as safe as possible for faculty, staff and students, and to be prepared in the event that security measures are needed,” Dr. Giani said. 

The district is currently seeking approval from the New York State Education Department to install security vestibules in the elementary schools, similar to those currently in place at Bellport High School, Bellport Middle School and Frank P. Long Intermediate School. With the new visitor management system in place at these facilities, visitors are prescreened, photographed and provided a sticker badge prior to entering the buildings and are required to return the badge when exiting the schools.   

Additionally, this fall, faculty and staff are being issued new identification cards, which will ensure the district is aware of who is inside the building in case of emergency. High and middle school students have also been issued identification cards, which must be tapped upon entrance of the school and cafeteria as an attendance measure. 

Security cameras have been placed in all non-instructional areas of the schools and the gymnasiums, as well as entrances, the sides of buildings and dead spaces. An upgraded security camera service also records activity around the buildings and was funded through the Smart Schools Bond. The district’s buses are also equipped with cameras to insure additional security for riders.

The district has also added a new “lockout” procedure to its security measures. During a “lockout,” only the exterior doors to a building are locked and business as usual carries on inside the building. A lockout procedure is different from a “lockdown,” in which all students and faculty must shelter in place until further notice.   

The most visible security measure is the presence of a new senior guard. A retired police officer, the senior guard visits all of the district’s facilities. In-house responders form respectful relationships with students and assist with intervention and the de-escalation of potential security issues. The responders also work as security guards after school hours. 

For the first time, teachers will be required to attend an active shooter training exercise with the Suffolk County Police Department. The goal of the exercise is to educate faculty on how to achieve a maximum and effective response during potential threat to security. 
The district also plans on utilizing the latest technology to upgrade security. During the Aug. 22 board of education meeting, the district voted to move forward with the potential use of Suffolk County’s RAVE application. Available through a county grant, the RAVE application is a panic button alert system, which allows the district to speed dial 911 to foster a quick response in the event of an emergency. The district is also interested in working with the Suffolk County Police Department’s Virtual Private Network, which would lessen response time by allowing the county to access district phones and cameras in the event of an emergency.

Important Definitions 

Shelter-in-Place: Students and staff are required to remain indoors because it is safer inside the building or a room than outside (such as during a tornado or other severe weather).

Hold-in-Place: Movement of students and staff is temporarily limited when an internal incident arises, such as a student fight, a medical emergency or a maintenance issue. This is initiated to keep students and staff away from the affected area.

Evacuation: Students and staff are required to be moved out of a building because it is safer outside than inside (as in the case of a fire, explosion or hazardous material spill).

Lockout: The school building is secured due to an imminent concern outside of the school building, such as a bear in the vicinity of a school. Regular activities may continue inside the school. Students will not be released to parents/guardians when a lockout is in progress.  

Lockdown:  Students and staff take cover, remain silent and out of view. This occurs when an incident poses an immediate threat of violence in or around the school. Students will not be released to parents/guardians when a lockdown is in progress.