(CBS News) FONTANA, Calif. – The police in Fontana are taking a different approach to fighting gun violence. They’re arming the officers who protect schools with high-powered, semi-automatic rifles.
“It’s heartbreaking that we have to resort to this level of preparedness,” said Fontana School District Police Chief Billy Green.
Last October, Green spent $14,000 to equip each officer with a semi-automatic rifle. Fontana is one of the first school districts to publicly acknowledge having such weapons on campus. By day, they’re locked in patrol cars or police lockers in school buildings.
Fontana School District Police Chief Billy Green
Chief Green acknowledged that they are military-style weapons.
“They’re similar to the platform of what you would see on an AR-15 or M-16, all made by Colt, an American manufacturer” Chief Green said.
The Fontana School District police chief says the Newtown school shooting convinced him it was the right action.
“To say that nothing like that could ever happen on one of our campuses here is irresponsible. We need to plan for this. We need to be prepared for this,” Chief Green said.
This image provided by the Fontana Unified School District Police shows a Colt LE6940 semiautomatic rifle, one of 14 purchased by the Fontana Unified School District to help provide security for the school, in California. The weapons, which cost $1,000 each, are high-powered weapons that are accurate at longer range and can pierce body armor.
/ AP Photo/FUSD Police
Many parents and teachers didn’t know until this week that he’d bought the military-style rifles. School board member Sophia Green says the money would be better spent on counseling a troubled student.
“It will be like a bloodbath. He has a gun, the police have a gun. I don’t think that’s the avenue we want to take,” Sophia Green said.
“To people that have that opinion, my question would be: When?” Chief Green said. “Do we wait until there’s been a tragic loss of life?”
Chief Green says he can bear the criticism; he couldn’t bear the loss of even one student’s life.