Written by Betsy Abraham, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00
A day after the middle school shooting in Nevada, Nassau County announced a new panic alarm program which will allow each school in the county to connect directly to the Nassau County Police Department in case of an emergency.
“The schools in Nassau County are a safe place, and will remain a safe place,” said County Executive Ed Mangano at a press conference at Carle Place High School last Tuesday. “Our planning and communication has increased dramatically in the past few years, culminating in this very important two-way communicator, (which) is a very important step forward in protecting our students, teachers and administrators.”
The county will be providing five Live Button 24 Freedom devices at no charge to any school that wishes to participate in the program. Districts will work with the police department to determine the best personnel to carry the wireless device, which is less than three inches long and can fit easily on a key chain or in a pocket. In case of an emergency situation, someone would just have to hold the SOS button on the device for four seconds, and would instantly be connected to the police department’s communications bureau, bypassing 911 dispatch as a priority call. Equipped with a microphone and speaker, the alarm also serves as a two-way communicator.
Another benefit of the Life Button 24 Freedom device is that it can provide the police department with GPS coordinates, so emergency personnel will know exactly where to go.
“It acts as a cell phone, but the difference is, it automatically goes to 911’s computer system and you have a two-way line of communication and a tracking system, so (police officers) know where you are,” says Joe Ingegno, owner of Life Button.
“When you have a dynamic situation, getting accurate real-time information is priceless,” said First Deputy Nassau County Police Commissioner Tom Krumpter. “This allows us to respond very quickly, and provides real time intelligence that can help officers as they come to the scene.”
The alarm is battery operated and must be recharged every four to five days. According to Ingegno, the button has already proven successful for other clients, such as executives, money carriers, and battered women programs, that may require emergency responders.
School districts will have the option of whether or not to incorporate the panic alarms into their schools, but both Westbury and Carle Place superintendents and administrators are on board.
While Massapequa scghool officials are not commenting on the panic buttons until they receive more information from the county, they specified that the district has many security measures in place, including a state-of-the-art surveillence system installed throughout the district in 2012.
Massapequa officials also said there are tight security procedures at school entranceways, which require visitors to be buzzed in and their driver’s license screened. The district also has a security staff that is made up of law enforcement professionals who conduct training sessions in emergency management procedures for staff throughout the year.
Also, the district was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from Senator Charles Fuschillo, which will be used for additional cameras to be installed in strategic locations.
Each panic button device costs $150, with a monthly fee of about $12. Nassau County will be able to provide the devices to schools for free, by discontinuing the antiquated CAPER (Criminal Activity Police Enforcement Records System) device. The Life Button 24 Freedom device is not only being used in schools, but also in different capacities throughout the police department.
“[Discontinuing CAPER] will more than offset the cost of the monthly fee for each school,” Mangano said.
The police department is buying 2,000 devices and schools wishing to participate in the program would have their five panic alarm devices by the end of November. — with additional reporting by S. Mosco