COMPTON (CBSLA.com) — Community leaders in the city of Compton Thursday were expected to demand officials rescind a policy that would arm school police officers with AR-15 assault rifles.
The Compton Unified Board of Education approved the Urban Police Rifle (UPR) policy (PDF) in June to improve security on campus by allowing specially-trained officers to purchase and possess the semiautomatic rifles while on duty, according to The Los Angeles Times.
According to the Board, the policy “will provide a more effective means to protect the students, staff, community, and police personnel in high risk and/or dangerous situations.”
Under the plan, officers who will take part in the UPR program will receive at least 16 hours of introductory training in the use of an AR-15. After that, participating officers are required to train and qualify at least every three months, according to officials.
But Compton NAACP President Paulette Simpson-Gipson and other civil rights leaders have complained to Compton School Police Chief William Wu that no amount of training can guarantee the safety of students.
“Compton schools are not located in Beirut, Gaza, or Kabul. They are located in the heart of a hard working, proud community in Los Angeles County,” Gipson said in a statement. “My question to Chief Wu is “Have you really thought this decision out? What gives you the right to endanger the children, the parents, and residents of the City of Compton?”
A statement attributed to Wu quoted by The Times said, “Our objective is quite simple — we want to save lives. The safety of Compton school students, faculty and staff is our prime concern.
“These rifles give us greater flexibility in dealing with a person with bad intent who comes onto any of our campuses.”
The UPR policy calls for AR-15s to be used only in “those situations where the circumstances at hand are beyond the capabilities of the standard patrol sidearms”, including scenarios in which suspects utilize body armor or high-powered, high-capacity weapons.
Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified, and Fontana Unified school districts all have various policies in place for the use of police assault rifles, according to nonprofit group EdSource.org.