Riverhead school district teachers and staff gathered in the high school auditorium Monday to train for what has become an increasing threat to schools nationwide — an active shooter.
The need for drills and training is “an unfortunate reality,” said Riverhead Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez.
The 17 people shot dead Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and more recently, the May 18 shooting that killed 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, are a reminder that it can happen anywhere, Henriquez said. “That’s a scary thought, but again, we’re interested in being prepared.”
After a forum in March after the Parkland shooting, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department began offering the “Civilian Response to Active Shooter” training sessions.
Riverhead is one of a handful of school districts that have taken advantage of the program, which has trained more than 1,000 people so far, said Deputy Sheriff Capt. John Rung. The session Monday was one of four the Riverhead district will host to ensure all faculty and staff are trained.
Three more districts plan to offer the training in August, said Rung. He declined to release the names of the other districts as a security precaution.
“There’s no way you could expect to survive one of these attacks if you’re not prepared,” Rung said. “And that preparation comes from training and really taking upon themselves, each teacher, to be prepared.”