Security official calls for vigilance to fight threats

Security official calls for vigilance to fight threats
Sgt. Robert Connolly, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s Homeland Security Unit, underscored the importance of preparation and "situational awareness." (Video still from Village of Great Neck)

Law enforcement officials urged the importance of vigilance at a Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees meeting last Tuesday night, while offering an overview of modern threats and precautions residents can take.

Sgt. Robert Connolly, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s Homeland Security Unit, said “situational awareness,” speaking up and taking precautions are pivotal for stopping and reducing threats.

This can take the form of having well-stocked first aid and trauma kits and defibrillators, knowing how many exits there are, and being trained in bleeding control and how to use Narcan to save someone suffering from a drug overdose.

“With some simple training you can help others,” Connolly said.

The officer cited several high-profile incidents like mass shootings in Pittsburgh, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas and Parkland, as well as attempted vehicle attacks and bombings.

And while these incidents are rare, Connolly said they are not impossible on Long Island – six people were killed on the Long Island Rail Road in Garden City in 1993, for example, and two people died in a shooting at our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook in 2002.

Connolly said if people see something suspicious, like individuals in places they shouldn’t be or an action that does “not fit into the daily routine,” they should report it. This also extends to posts on social media.

Threats have also evolved – terrorists have an online presence with step-by-step instructions on how to maximize damage, he said. Suspicious packages have also been on the rise, Connolly said, featuring excessive postage, direct addresses, strange odors and excessive tape.

He advised leaving a questionable package where it was found and getting the police involved.

“A lot of the incidents that we have been able to deter or prevent have been because people like you, citizens of the community, have recognized that something just didn’t seem right and passed that information along sooner rather than later,” Connolly said.

Connolly also said that in the event of an active shooter or assailant situations, one should know the exits, identify the means to fortify an area if one “must shelter in place” and, in the worst case scenario, identify potential weapons.

One should also note that officers are trained in “rapid deployment,” Connolly said, where stopping a threat – which they may not have all the information about – is paramount. They are also trained in search mode, where they will search unlocked rooms but pass locked doors.

Should one run into an office, Connolly advised not making quick moves, following officers’ directions and sharing pertinent information.

“They don’t know what the threat’s going to look like,” Connolly said.

To view the full presentation, visit the Village of Great Neck’s Facebook page at

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  1. It is sad that we need this kind of training, but we thank you Mayor Bral for organizing this for us. We appreciate your leadership.


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