Two Jamestown residents were among the dignitaries to introduce a statewide plan that outlines the protocols to keep schools in Rhode Island safe.
The eight-page document, crafted by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, was introduced during a presentation June 30 at Lincoln High School.
Ed Mello, who serves as chief of police in Jamestown, chaired the association’s committee on school safety, with the goal to acknowledge the impact that school shootings have on children, families and communities.
The document provides guidance on a range of actions that law enforcement agencies can take to keep students safe during class. The presentation comes in the wake of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which resulted in 19 children and two teachers dead.
“We hope that this document provides the support necessary for those seeking guidance,” Mello said. “We hope that this is the beginning of a productive conversation about what should be required in school buildings. We know as law enforcement professionals that the physical security of our school buildings will provide those valuable minutes that are needed in cases of active shooters.”
The protocols represent best practices for school safety, including physical security measures, training recommendations, and guidance on maintaining working partnerships between schools and law enforcement. The untimely response by authorities during the Uvalde shooting has been heavily criticized since the May 24 massacre.
“This is a comprehensive guide that provides tangible action items and best practices to keep our schools, and our students, safe,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “Coupled with the school safety assessments completed this month by each district, and the emergency funding that our administration made available for repairs and upgrades, we will make sure our schools stay safe.”
Peter Neronha, a Jamestown resident who serves as attorney general of Rhode Island, spoke about the importance of partnerships that will help to protect children. He also emphasized the importance of training officers to respond to threats.
“Taking steps in our schools across the state to make them safer for children is important, and making sure law enforcement is well-trained to respond in the event of a threat is incredibly important,” Neronha said. “It’s this partnership that can keep our children safe. I’m really pleased that these protocols have been put together. In my view, it is an enormous step forward for the community and most importantly for children in the state of Rhode Island.”
All schools in Rhode Island will receive the protocols before the 2022-23 academic year begins.