After Richneck Elementary shooting, Portsmouth schools seek $4.6 million for security

The Portsmouth Public School administration seeks additional funds from the city to put weapons detection systems in all school buildings — including elementary schools and preschool centers — in light of the Richneck Elementary School shooting.

“Any time there is an act of violence in schools, we work to review our processes and resources and see how we can better prepare to keep such a tragic event from happening here,” Superintendent Elie Bracy wrote in a letter to the Portsmouth City Council.

Bracy sent the letter Wednesday requesting $4.6 million for systems similar to what is used in many stadiums and theme parks across the country. They can detect weapons on individuals in large groups entering facilities, unlike the smaller metal detectors which require individuals to walk through one at a time.

As of Friday morning, the city had not responded to the letter. Interim City Manager Mimi Terry said the city has received the letter but has not had “an opportunity to speak with (Bracy) regarding his plan of action.” No further information was available.

The money would also pay for the equipment by the end of the fiscal year.

The request comes just ahead of the budget season. Bracy wrote that it was a “large request” but added, “I know there is no better investment our city can make than in the protection of our children.”

Already, the school division used $2 million to buy systems for its six secondary schools. According to School Board Chair Cardell Patillo, the division is waiting for delivery and the final installation. The pilot for this new system was at Manor High School in December 2021.

Additionally, the division is adding six school resource officers in the elementary schools. On Thursday, the school board discussed plans to work with the Portsmouth police chief to review and make recommendations on other measures, such as contracting dogs to sniff out various types of threats.

Kelsey Kendall,