Local activists have joined the national movement to raise awareness about the importance of school safety and reforming gun laws. In response to last month’s shooting in Parkland, FL, a school walkout will take place at Oyster Bay High School at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14. The 17 minute walkout, organized by the Women’s March Youth Empowerment Group, will honor the 17 people killed in the Parkland massacre.
Oyster Bay resident Dr. Linda Peltz, who was made aware of the national movement through emails from the organization and plans on participating in the walkout, said that the group will be allotted a space to stand in front of the high school.
“Our goal is to let the local, state and federal officials know that we care about students’ safety in the school,” said Peltz. “Help ensure these people did not die in vain; join us in showing up to support this school walkout.”
While it is not yet certain whether or not students from the high school will be able to participate in the walkout, the administration is supportive of the group’s stance—though cautious about student safety.
Superintendent Dr. Laura Seinfeld said, “We are working with our students to assess how best to respect their voices while ensuring the safety of all students and staff.”
A larger movement, March for Our Lives, will take place on Saturday, March 24. Local groups around Long Island will participate in conjunction with the march in Washington DC, where children and families will demand that their “lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.” The mission of the movement is to “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.” To learn more, visit www.marchforourlives.com.
Additionally, the Town of Oyster Bay has scheduled 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 8 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.
Town officials said residents can attend both lectures. To attend one or both of the Situational Awareness Lectures, residents must RSVP by registering at www.oysterbaytown.com, or by calling 516-624-6380.
—Additional reporting by Steve Mosco
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