PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Lincoln Chafee and top state lawmakers announced a plan Wednesday to boost school security and safety drills in the wake of last year’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The package of legislation would require schools and local public safety officials to conduct regular school safety assessments and monthly evacuations or lockdown drills. Another bill would require the state’s education commissioner to annually certify school safety plans and allow local school officials to work on the plans behind closed doors to ensure they aren’t known to possible attackers.
Schools are already required to maintain security plans and conduct safety drills, but the plans often vary from school to school and the scheduling of drills can sometimes be haphazard, said Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, a teacher and the sponsor of the legislation in the House.
‘‘We want to ensure that every Rhode Island school is safe and that plans are in place,’’ he said.
The bills were reviewed in legislative committee on Wednesday. All were prompted by the Dec. 14 deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 students and six educators were shot and killed.
Chafee said he’s also interested in seeing what the state can do to tighten Rhode Island’s firearms rules as a means of preventing gun violence. He said he would support a ban on assault-style weapons, but wasn’t sure the General Assembly would consider such a ban.
Top lawmakers are now working to finalize the details on gun control legislation. Chafee said he expects that legislative package to be announced next week.
Proposals have already been introduced that would require firearms owners to register their weapons with local police — and pay a $100-per-gun fee — and to require safety mechanisms on all guns sold in the state.
‘‘These times shock the conscience,’’ said Chafee, an independent. ‘‘But we are going to do our best to address that.’’