Johnston police presence tightens at town schools following latest mass shooting


Johnston Police will again increase their presence at the town’s schools, following yet another senseless school shooting massacre.

As Texas law enforcement officers investigate the nation’s latest horrific school shooting, local educators and police officials have renewed their vows to protect children from harm while they attend classes.

“I’ve been in contact with the superintendent of schools regarding this most recent, tragic and senseless act of school violence,” Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza said Wednesday morning. “I’ve communicated to him and you may let parents know that there will be an increased police presence at all schools throughout the school district.”

Johnston’s schools, like others in the Ocean State, practice live shooter drills and have enhanced security measures on campuses.

“In addition to our two SRO’s (School Resource Officers) deployed at our middle school and high school other security measures have been implemented over the years to ensure public safety at our schools,” Razza explained.

Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. said Wednesday morning that he would be sending a message from the district “to all families” at 8 a.m.

“Johnston schools have counselors available for any student who may need support,” DiLullo wrote. “Also, our principals will ensure that all safety protocols will be followed. Thank you to Chief Razza and the Johnston Police Department for their never ending support of our schools as they will increase their presence in our community. Thank you for your attention and have a peaceful day.”

North Providence Public Schools Superintendent Joseph B. Goho also emailed parents in his district neighboring Johnston, following Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“As you may be aware, sadly another school shooting occurred in our country today, this time at an elementary school in Texas,” Goho wrote. “Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this tragic situation.”

North Providence schools have also been in touch with local law enforcement.

“Please be advised that we have been in communication with the North Providence Police Department which is continuously and proactively taking steps to address school and community security in numerous ways,” Goho wrote to parents Tuesday evening. “In addition to School Resource Officers at the high school, each middle school, and the elementary schools, there will be increased police presence and visibility at our schools indefinitely. In addition, as you know, the North Providence School Department, the School Committee, and the Town have worked collaboratively to ensure that all of our schools are equipped with high security locked entrances, video surveillance systems, active alert systems, and other facility enhancements around school safety.”

DiLullo offered his sympathy for those grieving so many lost young lives in Texas.

“On behalf of our school committee, school department and our town, I offer our condolences to the families that experienced a profound loss yesterday in Uvalde, Texas,” DiLullo wrote to Johnston parents. “It is incredible that these mass shootings still occur in our country and that so many people suffer as a result. To loose a child in any situation is unbearable, but when these events occur, the sorrow is unimaginable. Our thoughts will be with this community in the days ahead.”

Bolstered security in schools is important, but Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena called it “a Band-Aid on an amputation.”

“Quite frankly, I’m a strong proponent of the second amendment, but do we need AR-15s out there?” Polisena asked Wednesday morning. “These were innocent children slaughtered — these are children. These are innocent children. This is not good. This is insane. They’re babies.”

Polisena hoped to assure Johnston families that the safety of their children is forefront in the mind of local law enforcement and elected officials.

“We’re doing stuff now that obviously I can’t say,” Polisena explained. “It’s covert. Chief Razza has his finger on the pulse. Anything can happen anywhere, but I think we’ve provided an extra layer of security ... At least we’re doing something. You can’t prevent everything.”

The reasons behind school shootings in America, however, have deep, tangled roots. Polisena, a nurse by profession, has been asking himself where the healing should begin.

“I think we could use more mental health counseling,” he said. “But, where do you start? The guns? The video games? Social media? I think it’s a litany of everything. This is not the country that our forefathers predicted we’d have. That’s for sure.”


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