Nearly five months after the second-deadliest school shooting in American history, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Nassau County Board of Cooperative Educational Services unveiled a high-tech surveillance center in Westbury that will allow police and security officials to monitor school video feeds 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Nassau County police and elected officials joined BOCES educators on April 18 to cut the ribbon on the center, at the BOCES customer care center on Merrick Avenue in Westbury, across from Eisenhower Park.
County Executive Ed Mangano was on hand to cut the ribbon. “I want to compliment BOCES,” Mangano said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of this tool.”
The surveillance center, full of computers and video screens flashing images of school halls and entrances, is a joint effort of BOCES and the Nassau County Police Department. Clifford Steinberg, BOCES’ chief information officer, said that two school districts –– Roslyn and Plainedge –– are taking part in a pilot program to test the new system. Meanwhile, BOCES is signing up districts for the program in the hope that all 56 of Nassau’s school systems will join in the effort, which, Steinberg said, will allow police to access school video feeds and blueprints from their cars in the event of a school disaster of any kind. Planning for the center began a year and a half ago.
Steinberg said that districts could contract with private security firms to provide a similar service, but, he noted, streaming all of Nassau’s school video feeds through BOCES and into the NCPD’s 911 call center would save millions of dollars for districts while increasing public safety.
There is no reason that each district should contract with a private security firm, Steinberg said. “Why do it 56 times?” he asked. “The idea is not to do it 56 times.“
“I’m just so excited,” Stephen Witt, president of Nassau BOCES and a Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education trustee, said of the new center. “This program here is just the beginning … I hope we never have to use it, but if we do, we’re ahead of the curve –– way ahead of the curve.”