Armed security vendor chosen for Smithtown Central School District

Armed security vendor chosen for Smithtown Central School District

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By Emma Gutmann

After a months-long search and evaluation process, the Smithtown Central School District Board of Education unanimously approved a contract with an armed security vendor during its Tuesday, June 27, meeting. 

The district reached out to 21 vendors, of which six responded. The evaluation committee’s five-pronged rubric scored proposals based on cost, references, relevant experience, understanding of the project and implementation plan and schedule. 

With an anticipated expenditure of $850,000 for the 2023-24 school year, the district deemed Ronkonkoma-based security and investigative agency Covert Investigations & Security the proper fit.

With the security firm approved and the contract in effect as of July 1, the next step is to introduce the security detail to the facilities, coordinate with the Suffolk County Police Department and post guards throughout the district. The contract is valid until June 30, 2024, with the agreement subject to termination by the district under certain circumstances.

Covert Investigations & Security’s website touts its teams’ expertise from police and fire service, homeland security and emergency management agencies. They have about 20 years of experience with school safety and protect approximately 75,000 students.

In an email, Jamie Stuart, communications consultant for the district, said the school district declined to comment further than what was said in the February 15 community letter from Superintendent Mark Secaur and the BOE, which is available on the district’s website.

“The rationale for this security enhancement is simple: Having armed guards on school grounds will improve our response time in order to better protect our students, faculty, staff and community members who are in and around our building on a daily basis,” the letter reads.

The school will not be at liberty to expose specific details such as “guard deployment, locations, and working hours as it may compromise their safety and effectiveness.” However, the letter promised guards would not be stationed within the school buildings or interfere with daily operations or activities. 

Guards would also have mandatory training sessions every year and be required to “requalify through performance-based assessments to ensure they will perform at an optimal level if ever called upon.”

Although the BOE meeting made the matter seem unambiguous, not all community members are content with implementing armed security. Representing the discontented peers he interviewed, Andrew Guidi, a recent alumnus of Smithtown High School East, has appeared before the board twice, highlighting the stance that heightened security can be counterintuitive. 

“I researched this topic more, and I found out there’s no clear evidence that supports the theory that firearms help prevent violence in schools,” Guidi told the BOE during its June 13 meeting. “The only thing this decision is succeeding at is making the people who attend these schools feel unsafe and uncomfortable.”

It remains to be seen whether the enhanced security measures will promote a more relaxed or unsettled environment for the students and faculty they were designed to protect.