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County Schools To Get Panic Alarms

A day after the middle school shooting in Nevada, Nassau County officials 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.

“We see this as an enhancement and one that we welcome,” Carle Place Superintendent of Schools Dave Flatley said. “Anything that’s going to help bring help here faster and more directly to a particular location is a positive.”

The Life Button 24 Freedom is just one more way that school districts have amped up security in the past several years. In addition to security personnel and cameras throughout the schools, Carle Place joined the BOCES BoTie Network in July, which allows law enforcement instant access to floor plans and camera feeds. In addition to almost 500 cameras throughout district schools, Westbury also utilizes the Raptor Visitor Management System. Upon entering, any visitor to the school has their driver’s license scanned through the Raptor System, which will instantly report if the visitor is a registered sex offender. The system also keeps a log and picture on file of every visitor to a school district building.

“In situations of safety, redundancies are always a good thing. When we’re in an emergency, we want to have pre-planned as many systems as possible so if one system fails, there’s another in place,” Flatley said.

Each device costs $150, with a monthly fee of about $12. Nassau County will be able to provide them 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.