Orange County conducts active shooter drill at BOCES

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GOSHEN – An active shooter drill was conducted Tuesday at Orange-Ulster BOCES to help law enforcement respond to school shootings.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said he gets plenty of questions from parents regarding school safety as news reports, sometimes on a weekly or daily basis, cover mass shooting in our schools.

“This is very critical. We’re seeing this more and more across the country.” said Neuhaus.

“We have tremendous cooperation from BOCES who represents all the school districts. The police chiefs are critical. The first responders – nine times of 10 the first on the scene is going to be a rank-and-file police officer. They need that training. They need that experience,” he said.

The exercise was also conducted to help those attending, from many regional police, fire and EMS departments, to recognize violent threats in schools and how to create an emergency action plan.

Mount Hope Police Chief Paul Rickard, who is also president of the Orange County Police Chiefs Association, school shootings are not a phenomena that started occurring in the last few decades since Columbine; they were have dated back to the 1700s.

“This is not something that’s new,” he said.

Rickard said the media and social media are components that are new to it.

Instead, Tuesday’s training helps law enforcement from all levels, state county and local departments, work to respond and try and prevent these calamities.

“Today helps us put in place those best practices,” he said. “No municipality in Orange County can handle this alone.”

Bill Hecht, the chief operating officer of Orange-Ulster BOCES, said emergency plans are required by the state to be updated yearly and that lockdown and in-place drills at this facility are conducted on a regular basis, although the pandemic and the absence of students prevented this preparation.

“Now we’re back in person,” he said, “we see it as a need, and it’s a priority to make sure we practice our fire drills. We practice all those types of drills, and this is one we continue to practice as well.”