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On Gun Violence Awareness Day, Suffolk County looks to prepare more schools for active shooters

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison explains to County Executive Steve Bellone how the "S.H.A.R.E." camera initiative works between local schools and the emergency command center.
Office of Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison explains to County Executive Steve Bellone how the "S.H.A.R.E." camera initiative works between local schools and the emergency command center.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone marked National Gun Violence Awareness Day by announcing new active shooter training for local schools, houses of worship and big box stores.

Bellone said preparing for the worst could save lives.

“It's important for everyone to know the tools to reduce response time in an active shooter situation are in place,” he said.

The announcement comes after a string of deadly shootings nationwide in the last two weeks, including those at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and outside a church in Ames, Iowa.

Several Long Island school officials reported threats against their schools this week.

Suffolk County announced Friday the arrest of a 15-year-old who made threats against Commack High School on Instagram.

"Threats of committing acts of violence on social media will not be tolerated," Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said. "I will have my best investigators out there, making sure that they have all the tools to identify those individuals and bring them into custody."

A Westbury High School student was arrested after posting on Twitter his desire to commit violent acts against students and faculty.

The 18-year-old man was released Wednesday from custody with electronic monitoring, and will be required to undergo psychiatric evaluation. The judge also said he was allowed to continue attending school. But school officials said he will not be returning to class in-person.

A Riverhead High School student faces charges after yelling into a classroom that he was “going to shoot up the school.”

“We have no credible threats out here in Suffolk County," Harrison said. "But what I will not allow is for this police department to do any type of reactive policing. Being proactive, being predictive is what's going to make this county safe."

In Suffolk County, the active shooter training will test two technologies: The “S.H.A.R.E” camera initiative and the “RAVE” mobile app.

The app was rolled out in 2018 as a panic button for school administrators, silently notifying police of an active shooter or fire emergency. School administrators can also share real time information to teachers and other staff.

Fifty-two school districts in the county, including Western Suffolk and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, have signed up, as well as 17 private school facilities, according to Bellone.

Since 2019, 31 school districts have signed up to participate in the “S.H.A.R.E” program, which allows schools to share school security cameras with the police emergency command center in real-time.

"We know that this system, 'S.H.A.R.E,' can save lives," Bellone said. "That response is critical."

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.
Terry Sheridan is a Peabody-nominated, award-winning journalist. As Senior Director of News and Education, he developed a unique and award-winning internship program with the Stony Brook University School of Communications and Journalism, where he is also a lecturer and adjunct professor. He also mentors graduate fellows from the Sacred Heart University Graduate School of Communication, Media and the Arts.