East Providence Police review school protection plans
EAST PROVIDENCE — The person tasked with leading a comprehensive review of safety policies concerning the city's schools said the process is progressing at a very good pace and expects to reveal more details shortly.
East Providence Police Lieutenant Raymond Blinn is leading the department's in-depth inquiry into school security protocol, a review sparked by the Newtown, Conn. tragedy last month as well as a gun scare days later at East Providence High School.
Lt. Blinn, who was appointed to the position by by EPPD Patrol Division Commander Captain Christopher Parella, was effusive in his praise of local authorities for their efforts in initiating measures already in place at EPHS when a student believed she had seen another with a gun in the corridor. The school was immediately closed according to so-called "Code Red" procedures. The EPPD also reached the scene in rapid fashion, bringing the situation under control within minutes of their arrival.
"School officials did an excellent job," Lt. Blinn said. "Our guys also did a great job. We responded to the call in under two minutes. We had the hallways secure in another two minutes, which are both exceptional response times. They did a great job in bringing the situation to a quick resolution."
The incident gave Lt. Blinn and the EPPD some insight into how they would react to an event of such possible magnitude. And it also gave them a recent touch point to begin a comprehensive review of school safety efforts.
"The first plan is to review all procedures, see if we need to update or eliminate anything. We also want to make sure everybody is on the same page, the police and the school department. We'll be looking at things we can do today, tomorrow and in the future," Lt. Blinn said.
"There are different security needs and each situation is different," he continued. "There are physical aspects that can be fixed, like with doors and locks. We understand the financial constraints the city is under. We're trying to do things that are cost-effective, but that are also achievable. There are things we can do that are economically feasible that can immediately impact the security of our schools."
No plans or precautions are 100-percent fool proof, though they can be implemented and initiated in ways to be most effective.
"Unfortunately, you can't always predict where perpetrators of this kind come from," Lt. Blinn explained. "What we're trying to do, and I think what all police departments across the country are trying to do is prevent something like this happening again from the get go.
"Our sole purpose with this review is to make sure our schools are safe. We're looking at protocols in each school and our own tactics in these types of situations. We're trying to prevent these incidents from happening all together, but we're also looking at ways to delay the progression of the incident if it does occur. We want to save as many lives, protect as many people as we can."
Lt. Blinn expects soon to unveil a foundational plan of procedures built to suit each individual school. He also would like to set up a safety and security committee whose members would be drawn from both the police and school departments.
"We're working on an aggressive timeline, but because this is such an important issue we want to make sure we get things right."