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Westchester Police Offer School Safety Training

An active shooter drill at Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt. Photo Credit: Provided/Westchester County Police
Tactical training at the Westchester County Police Academy in Valhalla. Photo Credit: Provided/ Westchester County Police
Fire Department, police and EMS personnel in Rescue Task Force training. Photo Credit: Provided/ Westchester County
Bedford Police during an "active shooter drill." Photo Credit: Contributed

As part of the Westchester County Police’s ongoing initiatives to safeguard Westchester’s schools, the County Police will once again be holding a series of training classes and exercises this school year for educators and first responders from police, fire and EMS agencies.

Training will be conducted at the Westchester County Police Academy in Valhalla, at individual schools through presentations and drills, and at seminars that bring together educators from across the county.

Through similar events and exercises held in recent years, the County Police have trained hundreds of first responders and educators in how to improve physical security at school buildings, identify school-based threats, prevent violence and respond to an active-shooter incident should one occur.

An estimated 500 police officers are expected to be trained this fall. Also, four sessions of Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training are also planned for about 300 participants.

“We have a clear and urgent responsibility to keep our children safe,” County Executive George Latimer said in a news statement. “I am committed to providing the training and tools that first responders and educators need to make our schools as safe as they can be.”

The County Police efforts began in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Since then, the County Police have attended a range of specialized training around the nation and brought that training back to Westchester for its officers as well as members of Westchester’s city, town and village police departments.

A key example is the nationally recognized Advanced Rapid Response Training (ALERT) program offered at the Police Academy. This dynamic, research-based training was created by Texas State University and recognized in 2013 as the national standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the FBI.

Under the County’s Unified In-Service Training Program for fall 2018, the Police Academy will hold 15 sessions of the ALERRT Level 1 active shooter training.

Each session is a two-day course which teaches the basic response tactics, methodologies and best practices to employ when responding to an active shooter.

In addition, the County Police have:

  • Conducted extensive active shooter training for tactical teams that might be called upon to respond to a school shooting;
  • Held classes specifically tailored to School Resource Officers to ensure they will be successful in their assignments;
  • Presented before groups of administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and school security staff on strategies to conduct a threat assessment on students who might be planning school violence;
  • Held lockdown drills and other school safety exercises at schools in the Lakeland, North Salem and Somers school districts;
  • Conducted Rescue Task Force training in conjunction with the Department of Emergency Services for police, fire and EMS personnel.

Westchester County Police will also be expanding its School Resource Officer (SRO) program this fall.

As reported here by Daily Voice, Latimer recently authorized contracts to increase the number of SROs assigned to the Lakeland School District, Somers School District and Hendrick Hudson School District for the first time. North Salem will continue to have one County police officer as an SRO.

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