As Riverhead mourns t who opened fire at on Friday, local officials discuss what security measures are in place to keep children safe.
"There are no words to adequately describe the feelings of grief, sympathy, and sadness that I am feeling for the students, parents and educators of Sandy Hook Elementary School and Newtown, Connecticut," Riverhead Central School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said. "On behalf of everyone at the Riverhead Central School District, our hearts go out to them."
Carney added that the Riverhead district's security procedures are reevaluated on a continuous basis. "We will use whatever can be learned from this national tragedy to make further adjustments to our practices. The families of Sandy Hook are in our prayers."
Carney said counseling willl be available at the district's schools next week for students and staff.
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said while school security is handled by the district, the police department has a response plan.
"We have specially trained officers and our squads have also been trained," he said. The plan, he said, is called active shooter, and includes training law enforcement on how to prepare for an individual engaged in a violent act such as a school shooting.
"We’re prepared to go if something happens," Hegermiller said. "Our response is to get there as quickly as possible and end the situation that’s going on."
Other programs in Riverhead school district, such as Council for Unity, which offers teens that might be considering gangs or other violence peaceful alternatives.
The program is embraced by the school district, parents, Riverhead town, and the police department.
"Council for Unity has done a great job as far as mediating problems," Hegermiller said.
But there are some situations for which no one can be prepared, Hegermiller said. "This guy was a nut," he said. "If he was hellbent on doing this, I don't know how we prevent this." A gunman, he said, could break the glass even if a door is locked.
"What can you do?" he asked. "Besides go into a prison, where you have layers of barbed wire and fencing, and everyone that comes in has to be scanned? I really don't know what the answer is."
As a parent, Hegermiller was shaken by the tragedy. "It's horrible, absolutely horrible," he said. "I can't imagine those poor people. You send a child, who is totally innocent, off to school and you have complete faith and trust that it's a safe environment -- and some insane person does this? It's very, very sad."