Westchester Officials Form 'School Safety Commission' For Students, Teachers

With the new school year just weeks away, elected officials in Westchester have formed a new “School Safety Commission,” which will be tasked with “facilitating and implementing best practices to keep students, faculty and staff safe while in (area) schools.”

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. Photo Credit: Contributed

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr., and County Executive George Latimer announced the creation of the Westchester County School Safety Commission, which will be filled by “leaders representing schools, educators, mental health experts and law enforcement throughout Westchester County,”

“With a new school year set to begin, the topic of school safety remains a focal point of national conversation,” Scarpino said. “Whether targeted by students, former students, former employees or an individual out to make a statement, it is important for schools to be prepared for any event that might put the safety of students and staff at risk.”

Officials said that the commission will “collaborate on how to evaluate and secure buildings in advance of and during an incident; how to communicate with law enforcement, other facilities, families and students before, during and after an incident; learn awareness about the red flags that a person in crisis may be exhibiting; and train teachers, staff and volunteers in these best practices.”

“Children should only have one thing on their mind when entering school each day – and that is learning,” Latimer said. “If even one child fears for their life just by entering a school building, that is one child too many. That is why our County Department of Public Safety, under the leadership of Commissioner Thomas Gleason, is hard at work making sure that schools are equipped with the resources they need to help ensure the safety of our children.”

Among the area officials who have been appoint to the Commission includes: 

  • David Atkins, Captain, New York State Police, Troop K
  • Harold Coles, District Superintendent, Southern Westchester BOCES
  • Lisa Davis, Executive Director, Westchester Putnam School Boards Association
  • Charles Gardner, Commissioner, Yonkers Police Department
  • Thomas Gleason, Commissioner, Westchester County Dept. of Public Safety
  • Lila Kirton, Bureau Chief, Community Affairs & Strategic Planning, Westchester DA’s Office
  • Steve Lopez, President, Yonkers Board of Education/Chair, Conference of Big 5 School Districts
  • Andrew Ludlum, Executive Director (Acting), Westchester Intelligence Center
  • Walter Moran, President, Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents
  • Paul Oliva, Chief, Mount Pleasant Police Department/President, Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association
  • Michael Orth, Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health
  • Rocco Pozzi, Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Probation
  • Joseph Schaller, Commissioner, New Rochelle Police Department
  • Lisa Scott, Program Director, Westchester Jewish Community Services, Center Lane 
  • Kevin Sylvester, Chief, Ossining Police Department
  • Joe Tadrick, Protective Security Advisor (NY District), U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Dayton Tucker, Chief, New York State University Police Department, Purchase College

The inaugural meeting of the commission will take place in the District Attorney’s office in White Plains at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Scarpino added that, “by bringing together a group of stakeholders with the knowledge, expertise and communications skills to develop protocols focused on keeping our schools safe places for teaching and learning, we will be better positioned to respond to and take a more proactive approach to possible threats in the future." 

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