Citing the national school shooting epidemic and potential acts of terrorism, the Compton, California school board has approved a policy allowing select campus police officers to carry semi-automatic AR-15 rifles in their patrol cars while on duty.
The school board approved a policy in July that will allow certain school district officers to buy these rifles and hold them in their cars should a mass shooting or terror attack occur
, according to KPCC. The school district will train the chosen officers, who will then carry the firearms in their cars starting next month.
The policy has residents of Compton, located in southern Los Angeles County, concerned over potential use of excessive force in a school district that has, in the past, seen allegations from students of racial profiling by Compton school police officers.
Francisco Orozco, a recent high school graduate in the district and founder of the Compton Democratic Club, told KPCC this preparation for the worst-case scenario obscures day-to-day concerns that exist on local school campuses.
“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.”
Orozco noted that a lawsuit filed by district parents last year alleged racial profiling by Compton school officers. Students have also recently lodged complaints of excessive force used by school district authorities.
“The school police has not even earned the right to carry handguns,” Orozco said.
The Compton School Police Officers Association countered similar pushback on the Compton Democratic Club’s Facebook page, saying that the Compton school district is not alone, as the “Los Angeles School PD, Baldwin Park School PD, Santa Ana School PD, Fontana School PD, San Bernandino School PD” have all authorized school officers “to deploy these weapons.”
“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 group wrote. “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.”
Compton Unified Police Chief William Wu told the school board that semi-automatic weapons are needed to counter body armor worn by shooters, which cannot be penetrated by standard firearms.
“This is our objective – save lives, bottom line,” Wu told the board, according to KPCC.
“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.”