The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) opposes gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung’s plan to “place a School Resource Officer or police detail at every school” in Rhode Island and “split the cost with each city and town.”
School resource officers and police details are expensive and provide only a false sense of security, as the survivors of the Parkland massacre can attest. By his own estimate, Fung’s plan would cost the taxpayers of Rhode Island $24.5 million per year. In order to prevent gun violence, that money would be much better spent on placing counselors, social workers, and behavioral health aides in our schools in order to create the healthy, supportive atmosphere our students need to learn and thrive. These efforts must be coupled with more robust gun safety laws including banning the concealed carry of firearms in K-12 schools by civilians, and banning the assault weapons and high capacity magazines that are the weapons of choice among mass shooters.
Over the past year the RICAGV has directly engaged with students around Rhode Island, and they are not telling us they want more law-enforcement officers in our schools. We need to listen to and carefully consider the perspective of young people like the Providence Student Union’s Ahmed Sesay when he says, “As a student of the Providence public school department I know that my and my peers’ past experiences with police mean that adding more police to our schools will not make the majority of students of color more comfortable or able to learn. We’re not even sure that school police protect students in mass shooting situations: the Parkland school had a school resource officer that was armed, but multiple students still lost their lives. As a country we need to address our delusional relationship with guns. More police in schools won’t accomplish that.”
“This election is a critical one, especially with so many dangerous policies to ‘harden’ our schools being promoted by the Trump administration. It is important that Rhode Islanders closely examine the platforms of our gubernatorial candidates as well as their records on gun safety issues,” said RICAGV President, Linda Finn. “After years of research and advocacy on policies that will protect Rhode Island students, we believe hardening our schools is an ineffective strategy to reduce gun violence and negatively impacts the learning environment. We need to join the vast majority of states in banning the concealed carry of guns in to our K-12 schools, and invest in mental health resources for our students.”
Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence is optimistic that Rhode Island voters will reject this ill-conceived plan on November 6th.