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How Would EG Handle A Newtown Scenario?

Town Manager and Police Chief offer their thoughts.


It is unthinkable. Or at least it was until Friday, when a gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

There had been no mass shootings in New England before Friday so we could be excused for thinking before, "Yes, but that wouldn't happen here." It did happen here on Friday and we are all wondering, what if? What if it happened right here in East Greenwich?

After conversations with both Town Manager Bill Sequino and Police Chief Tom Coyle and an earlier conversation with EG's juvenile officer, John Carter, here's what EG Patch can tell you.

According to Carter, state law dictates each school have 15 drills a year, including two lockdown drills and two evacuation drills. Evacuation drills are different from fire drills, Carter said, because the children were taken to a safer location, rather than lined up outside the building.

Four of the drills involve dealing with some area of the school that's blocked off, because of fire or some other threat, he said.

If a gunman breached a public school in East Greenwich, the first order of business would be to "take out the threat," said Coyle. He said police officers are trained yearly in active school shootings, paid for by the federal government. 

East Greenwich does not have a SWAT team – a "special weapons and tactics" team – because it is too small of a department, Coyle explained. Instead, EG has a "special response team" or SRT. The main difference between the two – an SRT does not have a sniper. If a sniper is needed, Coyle said, he would contact Warwick PD, which does have snipers.

In the event of a significant incident such as happened in Newtown, the chief said, "I would be calling whoever I could get."

He and Town Manager Bill Sequino recalled the break in on Middle Road last May, when a resident arrived home to find two men outside her house. A third party was with the car. They fled and the woman called the police. A manhunt ensued across a couple square miles, with officers from six other departments responding. .

"When you take a look at the incidents that have happened in East Greenwich, we get our people," said Sequino. He noted the arrest by EG Police of David Catalano in 2009 after he struck Clifford Levalley at Willie's Texaco, killing him, then shot a North Kingstown police officer. 

"For a peaceful community, we've had our share of unrest and our people have responded appropriately," Sequino said. Chief Coyle said that could be the town's location – easily accessible from Route 95 and Route 4 – and the stresses of a poor economy. 

"It would be good to continue the training," said Chief Coyle, "and pray to God this sort of egregious incident never takes place here."

Class of 98 December 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM
"state law dictates each school have 15 drills a year, including two lockdown drills and two evacuation drills. " is this new? i can only remember haviing fire drills.
EG0521 December 18, 2012 at 11:24 PM
well as a former EGHS student i recall having fire drills but not 15 a year, and certainly not 2 lockdown drills- i believe we had one my senior year
NATIVE 1950 December 19, 2012 at 03:18 AM
HOORAH!!!!!! JIMMY HALSBAND. I COULD NOT HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF. I ALSO HAVE TO SIDE WITH THE DONALD TRUMP ON HIS TAKE ON THESE VIDEO GAMES THAT CHILDREN SIT AT COMPUTER AND JUST SHOOT AND KILL AS THE FIGHTERS ARE DRESSED IN BLACK OPP'S. ETC. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, HOLLYWOOD WITH ALL IT'S GREED, NEEDS TO REFRAIN FROM PRODUCING MOVIES WITH ALL THE KILLING, SHOOTING,MAMING OF HUMANS ,ANIMALS. WE NEED TO FACE MENTAL HEALTH SQUARE IN THE FACE ,NOT PUSH IT TO THE CURB SO IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE DEALT WITH. TOO MUCH MONEY AND TOO MANY PROGRAMS FOR MENTAL HEALTH HAVE BEEN DROPPED. AS FAR AS GUN LAWS ARE CONCERNED, WE DON'T NEED NEW ONES, WE NEED TO ENFORCE THE ONES THAT ARE ALREADY ON THE BOOKS.
Carl I. Hoyer December 19, 2012 at 08:48 PM
And, it is not just video games and movies with violence seeming to become almost the norm; it's some of the TV programs as well, the end result being that many of us are becoming desensitized to violence. But, like bad news, violence seems to sell...and, here we are, back to "square one"; all in the name of the almighty dollar............... 'nuff said!
EG Bicycle Guy December 20, 2012 at 09:53 AM
Not Very Well. After speaking with educators and students, that is my answer to the question posed by this article. With due respect to the training of the EGPD, by the time they respond, as in Newtown, an attack will be beyond tragedy of epic proportion. Our schools are not designed to resist intruders. People are buzzed in without visual verification. There are no drills or not enough drills. There are few places to hide. The next time this happens, and unfortunately it probably will, the mental breakdown that drove the Newtown shooter could easily compel the next one to try to set a new record for mass murder. Perhaps prepare for a standoff against police rather than commit suicide. Perhaps use students and teachers as a shield. The Newtown principal and teachers who confronted the shooter and shielded the children as heroes and angels, but we can't count on that as a defensive strategy, can we? We need to improve the defenses of our schools. Arming teachers is not an option. We aren't going to solve the weapons proliferation in the EG patch, so please, save your breath on the constitutionality issues and all the cliches about people killing people, not guns. If you stack all that nonsense up, it doesn't come close to rationalizing the risk of a single child's life.

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