As eerie as it sounds, Southampton High School was on lockdown Friday, hours after a shooter is
But parents need not worry. The school was preparing for an emergency of its own, a pre-planned drill meant to inform students and teachers what to do in the unfortunate event of a tragic circumstance on school grounds.
"Lockdown drills are a very necessary part of school life as well as a need in other places of assembly in shopping malls, offices, etc.," Southampton School District Superintendent Richard Boyes wrote on Friday afternoon, in a letter posted on the district's website.
"People need to know how to secure themselves and others. There are certainly so many exterior and interior doors, many of which have glass panels that intruders can peer through. The drills emphasize containment for both students/staff and for perpetrators."
Details are still developing as of Friday afternoon, but police have confirmed that the gunman – who is now dead – is believed to have killed 26 people in Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children. The gunman's mother was reportedly found dead in her Newtown home as well.
Boyes said in an interview that the 20-minute drill occurred around noon, a couple of hours after news had broke about the shooting. And despite the tragedy, the superintendent said it was only fitting that the school continue on with its plans. A mass notification call, through ConnectEd, was made to parents in the district to notify them about the drill.
"We conferred whether we should go ahead with the drill and determined that it was very appropriate that we do," Boyes said. "We have to practice these things."
Superintendents in Sag Harbor, Tuckahoe, and Sagaponack School Districts did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday's shooting asking what preventative and response measures are in place, should such an emergency take place locally.
Boyes said that divulging too much of that information would be self-defeating. However, he noted that making sure students in classrooms are away from locked doors, out of sight, and quiet are some things drill coordinators check for. And preventative measures include a thorough security camera system, as well as locking all outside doors and stationing security guards at sign-in entrances.
Southampton Town Police Sgt. Todd Spencer said in the event of something such as a school shooting, officers actually recently went through training to handle such a threat.
Each year, Southampton Town Police participates in a defensive tactic program, rotating situations such as vehicle takedowns, Taser use, pepper spray, and others, said Spencer. This year’s program happened to focus on responding to active shooters.
In the event of an emergency, Spencer said, officers – who are encouraged to familiarize themselves with schools in their sectors – would immediately respond to the location of the active threat. While attempts to find the threat are made, additional units would be called for evacuation, and a K-9 unit could be called from a nearby department (Southampton P.D. does not have a K-9).
And should any shooting take place within a village police jurisdiction, Spencer said town police would be on hand to assist.
Southampton Village Police Det. Sgt. Herman Lamison said SVPD took the active shooter training as well, but added he hopes there doesn't come a time when it has to be used.
"You train for a situation like this, but you hope and pray that it never happens," he said. "But if you don't train and it does happen, you've really done the members of the community a disservice."
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