SCPD tests active-shooter drill

Intelligence gained from SHARE initiative

The Suffolk County Police Department showcased its enhanced eye into schools during active shooter drills at West Babylon Junior High School on Friday. Media was invited into the Real Time Crime Center at police headquarters in Yaphank to watch three different active-shooter scenarios unfold.

What is SHARE?

SHARE — Sharing to Help Access Remote Entry — has been implemented in 11 school districts in Suffolk County, and officials anticipate a significant increase in participating school districts in the coming months.

“What we are focused on and what we are thinking about is making sure we are partnering with schools and doing everything we can to keep our kids safe while they are in school,” said county executive Steve Bellone, adding that widespread implementation of the program across Suffolk is a top priority for the county and the police department.

The program has two main components: SCPD’s remote access to school cameras as well as remote lock and unlock for select entrances to each building.

“Using SHARE, we are able to provide our responding officers with the description and location of the threat, which would be vital to apprehending the person and stopping the danger,” said county police commissioner Geraldine Hart. “This insider look creates the potential to save lives because seconds matter when it comes to active-shooter [situations].”

Additionally, the school’s PA system can also be accessed from headquarters in Yaphank to communicate to everyone inside that police are on the premises. Stuart Cameron, the county police chief of department, assured that the technology would only be utilized in a lockdown situation.

Other technologies unrelated to SHARE have been implemented recently as well, including cameras positioned over busy streets with license-plate readers and smart-detection intelligence that identifies vehicle colors and models. Considering an active-shooter situation, the mass data that is collected can be analyzed in the case that the shooter flees, a scenario featured in the trio of drills conducted on Friday at West Babylon Junior High School.

What is RAVE?

The RAVE Panic Button app is also a recently implemented tool that is helpful for law enforcement in these scenarios, as it allows for the user to remotely report an active shooter.

The department has run countless active-shooter drills and continues to do so. Bellone said incorporating all of the new technologies in the drills administered on Friday demonstrated the evolution of the process in the case of a school shooting.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE WEST BABYLON DRILL?

Media was invited into the Real Time Crime Center at police headquarters in Yaphank to view the active-shooter drills on dispatch’s end, with the new addition of the school-wide view on the slew of video feeds presented. Officers were staged on school grounds, as there was not an intention to simulate an emergency response for fear of an accident. About 20 officers were on-site at West Babylon Junior High School and participated in the drills. Here is a detailed description of the three consecutive drills that began at the school just before 12 p.m. on Friday.

 

Scenario 1: no technology

This scenario does not feature any of the technology that SHARE features or other technologies that have been recently implemented.

The dispatcher relays to officers that multiple calls have come in describing a white male wearing a red shirt and blue jeans, wielding either a rifle or a handgun, shooting in the school. The reports include that there are students with injury and that the shooter is on the east side of the school.

Officers are directed to a door on the east side, where security let them in. If this were the real thing, however, officers would face a locked door and be forced to break it down, amounting to precious time wasted.

Once officers enter the building, the shooting ceases, causing officers to lose their orientation to locate the shooter. It is not long before officers gain sight of the shooter, who enters a classroom just afterwards and commits suicide.

 

Scenario 2: RAVE and SHARE implementation

This scenario demonstrates the use of the RAVE application and intelligence gained from the SHARE initiative, involving the ability for SCPD to tap into the school’s cameras and PA system, as well as remotely lock and unlock entrances to the building.

This time, a RAVE activation cues the dispatcher to relay a reported active shooter at the school. On the displayed map, an orange icon in the shape of a handgun appears over West Babylon Junior High School.

After tapping into the school’s cameras, the shooter is seen in the hallway. A screenshot of the shooter is captured at the crime center and can be viewed inside officer’s vehicles on their devices.

The same door entered in the first scenario is unlocked remotely from the crime center as officers approach. Officers immediately head for the hallway in which the shooter is spotted on the cameras. A public announcement is made over the intercom by police dispatch informing everyone that the police are inside the building.

The shooter is then apprehended.

 

Scenario 3: off-site technology

This scenario involves an active shooter who flees the school, demonstrating the use of other off-site technologies.

Same as the last scenario, the shooter is seen on the cameras in the hallway, and a screenshot is taken and sent to officers. Before officers arrive on scene, though, the shooter flees the school and pulls out of the parking lot in a silver or white Ford SUV.

“We don’t know whether he is trying to escape or if he has a second target in mind, so it is imperative that we apprehend him as quickly as possible,” said police chief Cameron, who led the presentation inside the crime center.

A helicopter picks up the vehicle driving down the road after a smart-detection camera identifies a match in the description. As soon as the license plate is read, the crime center begins tracking the name on the vehicle’s registration and even attempts searching that person’s social media accounts.

The vehicle is eventually pulled over by a squad car passing by.

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