Repercussions from the school shooting in Parkland, FL, continue to be felt across the country—including in Plainview-Old Bethpage, where some residents say vigilance and preparation are key to safety.
“I don’t live in fear necessarily, but it is a scary time in this country,” said Scott Graham, a 30-year resident of Old Bethpage. “This neighborhood is quiet, but you just never know.”
It is that thought process that led the Town of Oyster Bay to schedule two Situational Awareness Lectures—March 8 and March 22—to help residents recognize potential warning signs and learn proactive survival strategies during active shooter incidents in all possible scenarios, not just in schools.
The lectures, at Town Hall in Oyster Bay on March 7 and at Marjorie Post Park in Massapequa in March 22, will be hosted by the town’s Department of Public Safety in conjunction with the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD). Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the 90-minute lectures will encourage participants to be vigilant for suspicious behavior, which could be indicators of a future attack.
“Terrible tragedies throughout our nation have left residents feeling very uneasy,” said Saladino. “While we all hope to never face such an active shooter situation, residents can take this opportunity to learn survival strategies and recognize potential warning signs of violent individuals. The safety of our children and residents is of utmost concern and working with the Nassau County Police Department we will continue to advance education and preparedness measures.”
Saladino was first approach about the possibility of holding these lectures by Justin McCaffrey, commissioner of the town’s Department of Public Safety for the last 12 years. McCaffrey said that the town, along with the NCPD, wants to create awareness among residents and help them be alert in every day situations.
“This will not just be about active shooters, but multiple scenarios,” said McCaffrey, who spent 20 years with the New York Police Department before joining the town’s ranks. “People are very distracted in this day and age and that’s what this training addresses.”
McCaffrey said the lectures will help attendees take a common sense approach to protecting themselves and their families.
“We don’t think there is a shooter on every corner, but pay attention,” he said. “Don’t be scared, be prepared.”
The curriculum at the lectures will include the importance of reporting suspicious persons, packages and vehicles and other indicators of terrorism. Instructors will present information on the “See Something, Say Something” campaign and stress the importance of Suspicious Activity Reporting through contact with local law enforcement agencies.
Ultimately, Saladino said, the lectures will build toward providing participants with actions to take when confronted with an active shooter situation. During training, instructors will provide a historical review of national active shooter incidents and identify best practices learned from the after action reports.
Hicksville resident Harry Single, a retired federal agent, said he thought the lectures would provide valuable information to the public.
“I always support any kind of knowledge that the public can get to ensure safety,” he said. “The information would be very important because knowing what to do, and sometimes more importantly what not to do, could save lives.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an active shooter is defined as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. And because the DHS says that active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be mentally and physically prepared to deal with the shooter.
While eager to learn about situational awareness, Old Bethpage resident Joe Neery said he would not likely attend due to time constraints—however, he also feels that in the throes of an deadly situation, it would be difficult to apply any lessons learned in a seminar.
“I think it would be good if town provided these types of things online or on YouTube for people who can’t make it,” he said, adding that, “I can’t imagine what I’d learn there that would actually be applied in the middle of a shooting scenario.”
Town officials said residents can attend both lectures. To attend one or both of the Situational Awareness Lectures, residents must RSVP by registering online at www.oysterbaytown.com, or by calling 516-624-6380.
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