Students at a Compton school will be facing some changes as the new school year starts next Monday: the campus’ police officers will now be allowed to keep semi-automatic AR-15 rifles in the trunks of their patrol cars while they’re working.
The school board approved a policy in July that allows selected campus police officers to buy these rifles and keep them in their cars in case they need to use them in instances of mass shootings or terrorist attacks, according to KPCC. They plan on training these chosen officers and letting them carry the weapons in their cars within the next month.
Folks in the community are criticizing the policy and questioning why such high-powered weapons are needed on campus—and in the hands of the school police. Francisco Orozco, a recent high school graduate and founder of the Compton Democratic Club—a group that discusses local policies—said that students have complained about the campus police’s excessive force and that there was a lawsuit filed by parents last year in the district about the school police’s racial profiling. (Fox News Latino reported that Hispanics and Latinos make up 65 percent of the Compton community and African-Americans make up 33 percent.)
“The school police has been very notorious in the community and in reality has never had to shoot anyone before,” said Orozco. “So this escalation of weapons we feel is very unnecessary.”
On the Compton Democratic Club’s Facebook page, they’ve been writing about their opposition to the school’s gun policy, including a post titled, “School Wars.” The Compton School Police Officers Association wrote this in response and also noted other schools that were allowing their police officers to carry AR-15s:
Dear, Compton Democratic Club
Compton School Police Officers are not planning to attack the Galaxy of Teachers and Students.
Currently, the following School Districts authorize their Police Officers to deploy these weapons; Los Angeles School PD, Baldwin Park School PD, Santa Ana School PD, Fontana School PD, San Bernandino School PD.
If we encounter an active mass murderer on campus with a rifle or body armor, our officers may not adequately be prepared to stop that suspect. School Police Officers will undergo a training course, followed by a shooting proficiency test on a firing range and a written exam. The rifles are designed for increased accuracy and use rifled ammunition than can pierce body armor. The safety of our Students, Staff, and Parents are very important to us.
Last year, the Fontana Unified School District Police Department purchased 14 AR-15 rifles, with plans of keeping them locked in safes on campus, according to CBS Los Angeles.