SCITUATE, RI (WPRI) - Rhode Island law requires schools to conduct 4 drills a year that are aimed at helping your children survive a school shooting or even a bombing.
The lockdown and evacuation drill requirements were added to the state's school fire drill law in 2007, about 2 months after the Virginia Tech Massacre left 32 dead and 17 wounded. Gunman Seong-Hui Cho turned a gun on himself after the mass murder.
In the words of the amendment that was added to the state's existing school fire drill law, ‘Evacuation drills shall be designed and conducted for use when conditions outside the school building are safer than conditions in the building'.
The amendment requires 'two evacuation drills' and 'two lockdown drills' every school year at the state's public and private schools, from kindergarten to college. As the law reads, 'to protect school building occupants from potential dangers in the building'.
Rhode Island State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell, who works with the Department of Education on school security issues, tells Target 12, kindergarten is not too young to be prepared.
"People who are diabolical or demented have made schools targets. So, I think it's important. We have to do that," O'Donnell said.
The law does not detail how the drills should be conducted but a news release after the bill was signed stated that during the drills teachers would lock classroom doors and move students away from windows to prepare for a 'school shooter'.
Colonel O'Donnell contacted the head of Connecticut State Police after the Newtown shooting.
"He was almost speechless. He said there was no way to describe what happened. He said it's the worst thing I've ever seen and it's unexplainable," Colonel O'Donnell said. "And he's a 30 year veteran."
After the conversation with his Connecticut counterpart, Colonel O'Donnell was even more convinced training in Newtown made a difference.
"Without question, people lived because they did what they were taught to do. And if we learn anything from training people, when something happens, you fall back on your training."
Not complying with the lockdown-evacuation drill law is a misdemeanor but punishable with a fine of up to $500.
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