Chief: We can’t keep a cop at each school forever

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Police in Warwick, Cranston, and Johnston will have a tough decision to make if there is no arrest in this week’s school threat before school resumes Tuesday.

Police officers have been stationed at every school in those communities since Wednesday, after a letter threatening to harm elementary school children was sent to the Johnston Police Department.

While the letter said the violence would be carried out Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week; it’s unclear if police presence will be carried out beyond this week.

Warwick police chief, Col. Stephen McCartney, told Eyewitness News the departments involved will have to see where the investigation goes Friday.

“We’re going to have to look at a lot of factors this afternoon,” McCartney said, adding that he’d be in touch with the mayor and the chiefs of Cranston and Johnston. “I think we have to be realistic that we can’t keep a cop at each school, because of cost, forever.”

Warwick alone had a police officer stationed in more than 30 schools. Starting on Tuesday, McCartney said there will be a police presence at the schools for arrivals and departures, along with periodic walk-throughs throughout the day.

McCartney said he understands why having a police officer in each school is a popular notion.

“I actually think because of things like Sandy Hook and other events that have happened around the country, cops in schools has really become a public policy issue,” McCartney said. “The history and the data behind school violence says almost exclusively, they are unplanned events. So, I think we need to take that into consideration too. So, when we start balancing off, are we dealing with a real threat or is this a hoax, where someone was just hoping to create chaos in the schools.”

Watch Col. McCartney’s live interview from Eyewitness News This Morning

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