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Purchase College To Host School Safety Symposium

Purchase College, SUNY, will host a symposium on school safety put together by Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth.
Purchase College, SUNY, will host a symposium on school safety put together by Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth. Photo Credit: File

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Purchase College, SUNY, will host a school safety symposium on Wednesday in light of the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.

Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth organized the Purchase College symposium, which is “designed to provide educators with practical guidance on how to make schools safer and enhance coordination between law enforcement and school districts,” a news release said.

"Familiarity and coordination are two critical tools when preparing for and responding to a crisis," Longworth said in the release. "This forum will give educators a realistic sense of what they can expect and a chance to strengthen relationships and lines of communications with their law enforcement counterparts."

William Bratton, former New York City police commissioner and Los Angeles chief of police, will start the event at 9 a.m. as the keynote speaker.

Experts from around Westchester County will be on hand to “detail the best practices for improving school security,” the release said.

Topics include “An Overview of School-based Violence in America” led by retired U.S. Secret Service agent Charles H. Boklan, “Practical Emergency Preparedness for Schools” led by “noted school security expert” Matthew A. Miraglia and “Police Response to Dynamic Incidents in Schools” led by Chief Inspector John Hodges of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.

At 11:15 a.m. a panel discussion will focus on “the dynamics among law enforcement, school officials and parents during a crisis and bridging gaps between strategies that look good on paper and real-time decision making in actual situations.”

The panelists for the discussion include Kelly Chiarella, Westchester-East Putnam PTA region director; Isabel Burk, schools safety coordinator for Southern Westchester BOCES; and Louis Wool, Harrison schools superintendent and president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, the release said.

Wool said he is looking forward to the symposium.

"The opportunity to talk about what works and doesn't work ahead of time and in very realistic terms should be invaluable for all school districts that are in the process of updating security plans," Wool said in the release. "Insights from law enforcement, parents, educators and other government officials will help us develop the kinds of collaborative solutions we need to be effective."

Members of the public are allowed to attend starting at 11:15 a.m. They will have to present identification and register at the door for entry, the release said. All county school leaders have been invited to the event by County Executive Rob Astorino, the release added.

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