Practice Drills With SCPD
for the Unthinkable
Strobe lights pulsed frantically. Alarms blared.
In response, “armed” law enforcement officers in protective gear raced through the school corridors, swift but cautious, as they entered doorways, checked bathrooms, classrooms, and mounted staircases in pursuit of intruders. “Bystanders” were commanded to stay low to the ground. “Shots” were fired; cries for help were heard, making the scene even more frightening.
Fortunately, this was only a drill.
The Suffolk County Police Department, in cooperation with Sayville School District Administrators and Security Personnel, recently conducted an “Intruder Alert Drill” on a Saturday in March, at the Sayville High School as training to establish proper practices in the unlikely event of an emergency or crisis. Drills, such as the one in Sayville, have been part of an ongoing series of training sessions started well before the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012, but under direction of the Fifth Precinct Commanding Officer Inspector Aristides Mojica, the push to provide regular practices for first responders has been imperative.
That Saturday morning in Sayville, in addition to the 109 SCPD law enforcement officers who participated, 24 non law enforcement individuals, comprised of Sayville Security personnel and Sayville School District Administrators, went through the course. The school building drill, spearheaded by School Resource Officers John Scanga and Kim Kall, and conducted by Fifth Precinct Captain Gerard Hardy, and Commanding Officer of Emergency Services Lt. Kevin Burke, P.O. Frank Faivre demonstrated to new recruits and seasoned officers alike, the best protocols as first responders. They were being trained to distinguish, in split seconds, who might be actual threats and who were possibly off-duty law enforcement personnel, innocent bystanders, and other nonthreatening individuals—all with the goal of neutralizing active shooters.
So many contributed to the success of the well-organized drill: extra work done by the Sayville Security team, under the guidance of Security Supervisor Len Devlin, ensured that the course for the trainees was well-marked and cleared to go. The youth group, Police Explorers, earned community service as bystanders lying in the halls. Along with the SCPD personnel, Sayville Administrators participated or observed, including School Superintendent Dr. Walter Schartner, Assistant Superintendents Dr. John Stimmel and John Belmonte, Principals Ron Hoffer, Tom Murray, and Rose Castello, as well as Assistant Principal Michael Baio, along with Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Steve Koepper and High School Supervisor Rob Selkirk.
In addition,Town of Islip Councilman Steve Flotteron, Suffolk County News reporter Rick Chalifoux, and Sayville Public Relations Specialist Linda Mittiga were invited to attend, and while keeping the requisite safe-distance like the other drill observers, followed a fast-acting SCPD drill team run the impressive and exciting course.
“Sayville Public Schools was excited to partner with the Suffolk County Police Department to host their Intruder Alert Drill at Sayville High School Saturday, March 29, 2014.” Superintendent Dr. Schartner commented. “It was very helpful for our administrators and security personnel to take part in the training exercises for the police officers. Hopefully this partnership will continue next year.”
Photo al32: (l-r) Captain Gerard Hardy, 5th Precinct Commanding Officer Inspector Aristides Mojica, Sayville Superintendent Dr. Walter Schartner, and Sayville Security Supervisor Len Devlin.
Photo al35: Sayville Assistant Superintendent for Business John J. Belmonte greets Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron.
Photo al31: School Resource Officers John Scanga and. Kim Kall with Sayville Security Supervisor Len Devlin