Suffolk lawmakers accused of playing politics with rapid response app

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HAUPPAUGE -

Democrats and Republicans in Suffolk County are accusing each other of playing politics when it comes to the safety of school children.

Tom Plant, a father of one from Deer Park, says he was upset to hear that Suffolk lawmakers rejected a bond that would've created a public safety rapid response project in county schools.

"The Rave Panic Button is one of the critical tools in the efforts to protect our schools," says Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. "It's a mobile app on a smartphone that quickly alerts law enforcement and first responders of an active shooter situation at the touch of a button."

Democrats and Republicans both say they agree that the app would be beneficial for all involved. It was the way the bond was brought to the table for a vote that has lawmakers on both sides pointing their fingers and playing the political blame game.

All seven Republican legislators voted against it because it was put up for a vote as what's called a "bundled bond." 

"Unfortunately the county executive chose to put that project in with other projects after we made it perfectly clear that we would not support bundled bonds," said Legislator Tom Cilmi, a Republican who's the minority leader.

In this case, that meant in order for lawmakers to approve the $2 million school safety project, they would also have to approve $3 million in renovations and improvements to the county's correctional facilities.

"The truth of the matter is -- in all likelihood this bond would have passed last night had it been separated out," Cilmi said.

Bellone says they're not "playing politics," but some residents disagree.

"At the end of the day, safety should be the main concern," Plant said.

Republican Legislator Robert Trotta says he plans introduce a bill for a "standalone bond" for the rapid response project.

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