NORTH PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association was joined by statewide law enforcement representatives and elected officials this week in calling for the passage of Congressman David N. Cicilline’s bipartisan Active Shooter Alert Act, officially known as H.R.6538.
RIPCA members were joined at the North Providence Public Safety Complex on Wednesday, March 23 by Congressman Cicilline, Attorney General Peter Neronha, North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi, North Providence Chief of Police Alfredo Ruggiero, Jr. and police chiefs from Rhode Island’s First Congressional District to support the bill.
Congressman Cicilline’s Active Shooter Alert Act would create a program similar to the AMBER Alert system for law enforcement to alert the public to active shooters in their community.
According to the FBI, there were 40 active shooter events in 2020. The Bureau defines an active shooter event as an incident where “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” These incidents put a strain on law enforcement officials by way of preventing additional victims from unknowingly walking into the line of fire.
Law enforcement and other independent review commissions have urged improvements in emergency communications systems.
Speaking at the event, RIPCA Vice President Chief Kevin Lynch, of the Bristol Police Department, called the bill an important tool that could prove to be life-saving in the event of an active shooter situation. He voiced RIPCA’s full support of the bill, saying that having delayed alerts in any active and fluid violent crime puts residents in further harm.
“As both a husband and father to a schoolteacher, I am professionally and personally elated to have this federally sponsored alert program available for all our school-aged children, concerned parents and educational staff,” Chief Lynch said. “As a Chief of Police, having additional tools to address a complex problem in our society adds additional resources to all law enforcement leaders during critical moments of chaotic, challenging, and dangerous situations.”
Notably, Chief Lynch added, the bill would provide resources to effectively communicate active, ongoing, and imminent threats to communities, which would serve to warn the public to avoid dangerous areas in a timely manner.
Nationally, the Active Shooter Alert Act is endorsed by National Sherriff’s Association, Major Cities Chiefs Associations, National Association of Police Organizations, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), National Police Foundation, and National District Attorneys Association.