New York Schools Increase Security, Safety Measures As Students Return

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – As the new school year begins, school districts in central New York will begin to implement a list of recommendations to increase school safety following the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this year. Onondaga County officials released a school safety task force report last month.

Police and sheriff’s deputies from Onondaga County at West Genesee High School. TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA

West Genesee School District Superintendent Chris Brown said other superintendents in the region will be meeting with Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick and county Sheriff Gene Conway to discuss the entire report. But Brown said he is already taking up some of the ideas.

“I think you can expect school administrators to be talking with parents and students about the importance of saying something if they see something,” Brown said. “That’s going to be the number one thing that we’re going to be promoting this year, for sure.”

Brown said parents and students can expect more locked buildings, police patrols and changes to different activities and practices to reflect increased security.

Sheriff Gene Conway said some districts have asked for armed school resource officers. He said there will be visible and not-so-visible signs of increased safety.

“We’re going to focus on training, we’re going to focus on a unified response plan, as far as law enforcement’s concerned,” Conway said. “We work so closely together, that is something people do not have to be concerned about. We are on the same page, and we continue to move forward in our meetings in talking about this so we can best be prepared should an incident occur. Threat assessment and crisis prevention are probably areas people won’t see visibly, but they have been discussed and have come out as recommendations through the task force report.”

School districts can choose which recommendations from the report they want to go into effect.

Onondaga County officials are also warning drivers to be aware of increased foot traffic and pedestrians, to slow down for schools buses in school zones and stop for schools buses with flashing red lights. Brown said the best thing motorists can do is slow down and be aware of their surroundings.

“Take that extra second to look in both directions,” Brown said. “Watch for bus stops. Watch for crossing students. Watch for suspicious cars. Report what you see. Play your role in making sure all of our students get to school safely.”

50,000 vehicles illegally pass school buses in New York State every day, and bus drivers in central New York said they see it daily. Police will be picking and choosing locations to do enforcement.

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