Senator Flanagan Calls For Increased Safety Measure For Schools And Colleges

John J. Flanagan

June 19, 2007

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced that legislation he sponsored to enhance security in all New York schools has passed the New York State Senate. The legislation, which is awaiting approval in the Assembly, would authorize a mapping program for every school, college and university throughout the state.

The need for this type of system, called the Critical Incident Mapping and Planning System (CIMPS), became evident in light of the recent tragic events at Virginia Tech where a gunman shot and killed over thirty students during a rampage.

"Time is of great value in protecting lives during an emergency and this system would greatly enhance the ability of police and fire personnel to provide assistance. From terrorism to natural disasters, New York State needs to be prepared to respond quickly especially when young lives are at stake," stated Senator Flanagan.

This program, which would be developed with federal funding, would provide those who respond to emergencies with instant access to important information about schools. The information that would be available would include building maps, evacuation procedures, information about any hazardous materials and any other relevant facts about schools.

By being able to quickly access this information, rescuers would be able to respond in a more timely and effective manner and would make any response more efficient. The program is modeled after a similar program in Washington which was built by first responders to assist them when they respond to an incident of any sort at a school building.

In the fall of 2004, the Washington system was used in a critical incident at a Spokane high school involving a student with a gun. Through that utilization, the school was evacuated in less than twelve minutes and the incident was resolved in less than an hour.

Similar programs are currently in effect in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Colorado and Kentucky.

Under Senator Flanagan’s legislation, the program must include conditions for use and guidelines for accessibility to protect the privacy of this information. It would also specify that the New York State Office of Homeland Security provide guidelines for the training of people who would use the system.

In addition, based on the availability of funding, the legislation directs state agencies and other governmental entities to use the system and to incorporate into the system means of notification, evacuation routes, plans for sheltering in place, and training for prevention in connection with violent attack.

"By coordinating all the aspects of emergency response, our entire school system will be unified in their ability to react to an emergency. That will protect children, will enhance emergency response and that will save lives. In light of recent events at both the school and college levels, this is a realistic and needed approach to protecting our students," stated Senator Flanagan.