RI to require schools to have emergency plan

Every school district in Rhode Island will be required to have a plan in case of an emergency.

A training drill took place Wednesday at Pilgrim High School in Warwick. In the scenario that played out, a lone gunman, heavily armed, stalked the hallways, looking for prey.

"If you take a look at all after-action reports, whether it be an actual incident or whether it be an exercise, the first comment usually (about) improve(ment) is better communications or improved communications," said Maj. Raymond Gallucci of the Warwick Police Department.

Warwick police, in full gear and body armor, played out the drill as if it were the real thing, with protocol and a sense of stopping the gunman.

"It's always a concern, I will say. There's even a video out there that 'it can happen anywhere.' That's the title of it, and that's what we look at. That's what we plan for, and that's what we hope to mitigate in the future," Gallucci said.

The mock suspect was arrested without incident in the drill, as a SWAT team cleared the rest of the building.

As part of the exercise, a private for-profit security company called Mutualink showed how its $10,000 to $30,000 surveillance communication system would work. Jeff Kelly explained, when asked to clarify, that the only way police can access the cameras in the school is if the school invites them to.

"Exactly, or under a mutual understanding between both. If there should be a life and death situation, that access has been granted by them pushing the panic button. We're trying to beat the threat, and this technology does it better than any out there on the market today," Kelly said.

Not all schools will opt for such a plan, and it's not required by the upcoming law.

State Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston, was on the committee that drafted part of the legislation. She said the school's plans have to be approved and reviewed.

"So that something that seems like a good idea is checked out by more than one or two people that think it's a good plan. You know what the children are expected to do, what the administration is going to do, police and fire are going to do," Gallo said.

Gallo, along with lawmakers from both houses and the governor, crafted the law requiring the plan and review, and expect it to go on the books within the next few weeks.