Updated 10:58 AM EDT, Mon, Apr 23, 2018

School Police Officers in Compton, California Will Now Be Guarding Campuses with AR-15 Semi-Automatic Rifles

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As classes gear up to resume across the nation, Compton’s classrooms will have a new face in their halls this academic year – AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.

Over the summer, school board officials approved a new, more aggressive policy to policing schools that allows school police who pass a screening to carry AR-15 rifles in their patrol cars while they are working, according to KPCC, a Southern California public radio station.

But while the school board finds the policy acceptable, critics are calling it excessive, questioning the motive and justification behind semi-automatic weapons on school campuses.

Five other California schools allow for such weapons on campus, according to the Compton School Police Officers group.

"This is our objective—save lives, bottom line," Compton Unified Police Chief William Wu told the board, according to KPCC.

Wu also stated that the AR-15 rifles were chosen for their precision, as they can be used in the face of a "masked intruder" or "terrorist," as the perpetrators in such cases often wear body armor that is impervious to routine weapons.

"Handguns you'd be lucky to hit accurately at 25 yards," Wu said. "With a rifle in the hands of a trained person, you can be go 50, 100 yards accurately."

Critics, however, are not convinced.

"The school police has been very notorious in the community and in reality has never had to shoot anyone before," said Francisco Orozco, a Dominguez High School graduate and founder of the Compton Democratic Club. "So this escalation of weapons we feel is very unnecessary."

Orozco told KPCC that rather than providing for assault rifles, the district should devote attention to more common security problems on school grounds, as mass shooters or terrorists, although perhaps a real threat, are an unlikely issue to contend with.

"The school police has not even earned the right to carry handguns," Orozco said.

The Compton School Police Officers debated the issue with the Compton Democratic Club on Facebook, saying they “are not planning to attack the Galaxy of Teachers and Students” with the AR-15 rifle. 

“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,” the message said. “School Police Officers will undergo a training course, followed by a shooting proficiency test on a firing range and a written exam… The safety of our Students, Staff, and Parents are very important to us.”

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