On Wednesday, January 23rd, Misaskim hosted an NYPD conference for yeshivah and Bais Yaakov school principles and administrators at the Hod V’Hadar hall in Boro Park. The meeting was called by NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South Assistant Chief Thomas Chan in light of the tragic school shooting in Newton, Connecticut. The objective of the conference was to formulate a preparedness plan for our schools in the event of a shooting emergency. In attendance were members of the local law-enforcement community, New York City Councilman David Greenfield and other community leaders.
In his welcoming statement, Rabbi Yanky Meyer of Misaskim told school administrators that while we are all tempted to rationalize that an incident similar to the one in Connecticut is unlikely to occur here, it is our responsibility to our children to take the steps to address this issue. He recalled that last summer there were two incidents that involved police officers and Shomrim members pursuing bank robbers in the streets of our community. In one of these incidents, the perpetrator was armed. How would school officials react should such a perpetrator decide to take shelter in a school?
Councilman Greenfield began his remarks by praising the police department and Chief Chan for being in tune with the needs of our community. He also welcomed Chief Peter Brower of the Ramapo Police Department. Chief Chan, in turn, thanked Misaskim for its dedication in coordinating this event.
Councilman Greenfield stressed that the community in Newton had all the security measures in place in their school building and certainly were not concerned about an attack. “In our case it’s the exact opposite,” Greenfield said. “If you ask any expert, they will tell you that we actually are targets.” He went on to explain that security involves surveillance, security guards, and our bussing system, among other important items. He assured everyone that his office is doing its utmost to assist schools in obtaining the resources they need to implement proper security measures.
Chief Chan pointed out that statistics show that most active shooting situations occur at educational facilities. He said that while each school is different, each yeshiva is different, and each facility is different, it is up to school administrators to formulate a security plan that is appropriate for their situation. He urged schools to screen all visitors to their school buildings and share their evacuation plan with parents to lessen confusion during an emergency. He then introduced the NYPD’s Shield Program. This presentation outlined the appropriate actions school personnel need to take in the event of an emergency.
David Pollack of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) presented school administrators with an emergency planning program that schools can easily adapt and implement to fit their needs. The JCRC has created many emergency planning resources for organizations and is available to guide schools and other organizations in formulating an effective plan.
The conference concluded with pertinent tips from Inspector Philip Van Gostein, the NYPD Patrol Borough Brooklyn South Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. He reminded the audience that the conference was only the first step toward securing our schools. He urged administrators to reach out and meet the school sergeants and security officers who were present at the conference to discuss all security related questions.
Ramapo Police Chief Peter Brower told the audience that he found the conference very informative. He explained that the community in Rockland County, although not as densely populated as Brooklyn, faces similar challenges. He praised the school supervisor in his district, who is very sensitive to the schools’ needs. Chief Brower said that a large majority of students in the East Ramapo district attend parochial schools and his department is in the process of working out security preparedness for them. He was grateful for being invited to the conference so he could see first-hand how it was being done on a larger scale.