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Local Schools To Get Panic Alarms

A day after the middle school shooting in Nevada, Nassau County announced a new panic alarm program which will allow each school in the county to connect directly to the Nassau County Police Department in case of an emergency.

“The schools in Nassau County are a safe place, and will remain a safe place,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. The county will be providing five Live Button 24 Freedom devices at no charge to any school that wishes to participate in the program. Districts will work with the police department to determine the best personnel to carry the wireless device, which is less than three inches long and can fit easily on a key chain or in a pocket.  In case of an emergency situation, someone would just have to hold the SOS button on the device for four seconds, and would instantly be connected to the police department’s communications bureau, bypassing 911 dispatch as a priority call.  Equipped with a microphone and speaker, the alarm also serves as a two-way communicator.

Another benefit of the Life Button 24 Freedom device is that it can provide the police department with GPS coordinates, so emergency personnel will know exactly where to go.

“When you have a dynamic situation, getting accurate real-time information is priceless,” said First Deputy Nassau County Police Commissioner Tom Krumpter. “This allows us to respond very quickly, and provides real time intelligence that can help officers as they come to the scene.”   

After performing a security audit, last year, Farmingdale school officials said they became interested in implementing panic buttons well before the county program was even an option. Despite the added incentive, having panic buttons provided for free, Farmingdale school officials plan to review all of their options before making any commitment.

“We were already moving in that direction,” said Paul Defendini, assistant superintendent of business in Farmingdale. “[The district] need’s to look into exactly what the county is offering.”

Apart from the additional cost, if the district decides to hire an outside security firm, Defendini said the district wants to make sure they pick the best option available.

Each panic button device costs $150, with a monthly fee of about $12. Nassau County will be able to provide the devices to schools for free, by discontinuing the antiquated CAPER (Criminal Activity Police Enforcement Records System) device. The Life Button 24 Freedom device is not only being used in schools, but also in different capacities throughout the police department.

“[Discontinuing CAPER] will more than offset the cost of the monthly fee for each school,” Mangano said.

The police department is buying 2,000 devices and schools wishing to participate in the program would have their five panic alarm devices by the end of November.

— with additional reporting by D. Offner