RI School Safety Committee says protecting schools needs a community effort
Rhode Island has a school safety committee that has been meeting every month since 2006.
It is comprised of school administrators, facilities managers, teachers, and members of law enforcement.
There have been advances in securing schools during the years, with nearly every school in the state having lockable doors, which require authorization to enter.
But physical barriers to intruders are not the only improvements that have been made, according to State Police Capt. Derek Borek, who chairs the committee.
Awareness, he said, might be the most important step.
“People are grasping the idea that we have to do this, we have to get in front of this, because if we don’t get in front of it, something’s going to happen that’s not going to be good for our schools,” said Borek.
Ideally, schools would be tougher to get into, with locked doors, and foyers where an intruder could be held at bay. It would be better if every school had an armed officer.
But even with all foreseeable precautions, Borek said it will be the efforts of an entire community that make schools safer.
“If you see something, say something,” Borek said. “We have to work on this together. If you get a little bit of information, you have to share this information, whether it’s a school resource officer or someone in the schools or it gets to law enforcement. We are all a part of this together, not just the school department, but everyone involved in everyday life has to be a part in recognizing that this could be a potential threat to us.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo attended the monthly meeting on Monday. She heard suggestions that more training be given teachers, and the need for social workers and guidance counsellors in schools to help identify potential problems. She also suggested that if a proposed school construction program is undertaken, that safety measures would be a concrete improvement.
“I want to see this group really advising how those moneys are spent, so we use it to make schools safer,” the governor told the committee.