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Dec 19, 2012 11:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Officials Discuss Safety Preparations In Wake Of Sandy Hook Tragedy

Dec 19, 2012 12:06 PM

Southampton Town officials, law enforcement officers and school leaders—about 40 in total—sat facing each other in the Hampton Bays Middle School gymnasium on Tuesday afternoon, planning and preparing for the unimaginable.

In the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 26 people, mostly children, dead last Friday, December 14, officials shared their most pressing thoughts with regard to school safety.

“The genesis of this meeting, I think, theoretically happened as soon as we turned on the news on Friday,” Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen said before the meeting began. “What separates Sandy Hook School and Newtown, Connecticut, from any one of our communities is really just the Long Island Sound.”

After a brief introduction, the meeting was closed off to the public and all media.

Mr. Clemensen, who led the gathering, shared afterward the four main pillars that the officials, including a representative from State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.’s office, discussed and plan to focus on moving forward. The first, he said, was communication—making sure that the language and technology used from top to bottom 
is consistent and efficient. The second is safety protocol, such 
as lockdown and evacuation drills.

The third, which Mr. Clemensen said resonated strongly with him, is mental health awareness and intervention for those students who are in need of help. Lastly, Mr. Clemensen said the leaders in the room discussed a need for grants and funding opportunities that could support additional public safety measures.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst reminded all in the room not to “lose touch with each other.”

“As tragic as this is, it gives us the opportunity to do what I think is most important, and that is come together as a community and to pool our resources toward our needs, and also recognize that whereas much has been done already, more can be done,” she said.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce stressed that his department and the schools already have policies in place, but are fine-tuning them.

“If you look at what happened in Connecticut, everything was in place,” he said. “Locks keep out honest people.”

He said that adding new security measures at East End schools is a step that each individual district needs to discuss.

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Schools need to start having armed personel on site. In the event of an active shooter, immediate action needs to be taken to engage and stop the threat. Waiting for for law enforcement to arrive after the initial 911 call is too long. The average response time of police is six minutes. Staging and gathering intel will take longer. The time it takes a shooter to do bodily harm to a great number of persons only takes a few short minutes and by the police move into action, the event is over with mass ...more
By Jaws (245), Westhampton Beach on Dec 20, 12 1:48 AM
Armed personnel on site in our schools? Are you insane?
By nancyloo (13), Southampton on Dec 20, 12 12:54 PM
nancyloo, not insane...rational. how else do you propose to protect the children in schools and other institutions? Gun laws will not solve the problem. The state of Texas is already discussing this. Schools in Israel have their teachers armed. There needs to be a deterrent to keep evil people from doing this. What's so wrong with armed security guards in schools?
By Jaws (245), Westhampton Beach on Dec 21, 12 1:45 AM
So what is YOUR solution phil?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jun 11, 13 11:46 AM
Not worth the trouble.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 13 12:10 PM