CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Cranston City Council passed a pair of resolutions aimed at making schools safer in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month. The votes on both a Democrat- and Republican-backed resolution came after more than three hours of impassioned public testimony and partisan debate among councilors Monday night.
The Republican-backed resolution, introduced last week, encourages the General Assembly to consider adding metal detectors, lock boxes for concealed weapons and armed guards at schools. The Democrat-backed proposal urges legislators to make local schools gun-free zones.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Cranston residents including parents, teachers and members of the school committee took issue with the Republican proposal, saying it seemed like a political move. Members of the school committee said they and the school department were blindsided by the resolution.
“Before you undertake something of this magnitude, the Cranston School Department, who in fact has the care and control of the school buildings, all 26 and 11,000 students in it, has always been fervently working on this,” said Stephanie Culhane, a member of the school committee.
A representative from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern about militarizing local schools.
“My goal is to make schools safer,” said council president Michael Farina, who introduced the resolution.
Ultimately, members of the council voted unanimously to send the proposal to a newly-formed bipartisan subcommittee created to study the ideas in the resolution. The subcommittee will also include include school and public safety officials.
The Cranston City Council also voted 8-1 in favor of the Democratic-backed resolutions urging the General Assembly to make local schools gun-free zones. The vote on the resolution comes months after it was originally introduced.