Town Council Meeting Update for June 21st 2022
Council Considers School Security Proposal, Recreational Cannabis
By Cynthia Drummond
June 21st 2022
RICHMOND – At the June 21 meeting, the Town Council continued the discussion from the June 7 meeting of a proposal to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve security at Richmond Elementary School.
The council also approved a resolution authorizing a question on the ballot of the Nov. 8 general election on sales of recreational cannabis.
After consultations with school and public safety officials, council Vice President James Palmisciano presented his proposal for strengthening security at Richmond Elementary School, and also, possibly, on the Chariho campus.
Palmisciano’s “School ARPA Funding Expenditure” proposal, or S.A.F.E., would improve technology, infrastructure and response capabilities at the elementary school, following the murders of 19 children and two teachers on May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The town will receive more than $2.3 million in ARPA funds, and the proposed security enhancements would cost $86.050.
Improvements to the school’s technology would include the addition of five video monitoring cameras, enhanced internal communications and the installation of additional badge-readers.
Infrastructure improvements would include concrete bollards at entrances, the installation of bullet proof window glass, and the restriction of visibility at ground floor windows through the application of a special 3M film.
Police would receive additional equipment which would include shields and tactical gear.
“We talked about our police force, in Richmond, in conjunction with Chief Johnson,” Palmisciano told the council. “Our police force does not have those shields. …That type of shield, anti-ballistic shield, would be something that our police force would want to acquire. Also, the door-ram, and tactical gear, again, to enable a quick response by our local police force so we wouldn’t have to wait for the appropriate teams to arrive. We’d be able to respond ourselves.”
Palmisciano noted that his proposed measures would be a proactive response to the threat of a possible attack at the elementary school.
“All too often, we’re faced with incidents like what we witnessed in Texas and countless other occasions,” he said. “We ask ourselves, ‘what can we do to help prevent this from happening again?’ We’ve all said that, right? We see it and say ‘what can we do? What can we do differently?’…This is something we can do, this truly is.”
The proposal was referred to town staff for further consideration.
The council approved a resolution which will ask voters to approve or reject the issuance of new licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, laboratory testing and retail sales of adult recreational use cannabis in the town. Unless the town prohibits recreational marijuana sales, which were recently approved by the state legislature, those sales would be permitted.
The question will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.
During a public hearing, the council received an update on proposed amendments to the town’s Home Rule Charter, which, if approved, would replace the Financial Town Meeting with an all-day referendum and change the title of Town Administrator to Town Manager.
The council asked Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth to modify some of the proposed changes, which will be discussed at the July 12 meet8ing.
In other business, police Chief Elwood Johnson warned residents of a scam involving a telephone call from a person claiming to be a police officer.
“They have twice now represented themselves as a member of the police department, one from Richmond and the other one from a police department in Alabama, basically saying that they had accepted or received at the business that they work at in town, some type of bogus bill, counterfeit bill, and that they were going to be arrested if they didn’t go and get $400 out of their account and mail it or send it to a third - party location,” he said.
Johnson noted that the police would never telephone a resident and demand money.
“The person has a southern accent,” he added. “I can assure you, I know everybody that works at the Richmond Police Department. Not one of them has a southern accent – not even a southern Rhode Island accent.”