Resource officers at the Altoona Area High School, and other schools throughout the district, may soon be able to carry AR-15 semi-automatic patrol rifles, if the school board passes a policy change at its Jan.17, 2023 meeting.
Altoona Area School Board approves AR-15s for school resource officers ‘heaven forbid’ they need them
At least a few other school districts nationwide have passed similar policy changes allowing the AR-15s, including Pittston, Pennsylvania.
The Altoona Area School District board of directors approved AR-15 semi-automatic patrol rifles for “carry, deployment and use” by school resource officers at Tuesday night’s meeting.
School shooters at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook used AR-15s.
Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said the district wants school resource officers to have access to the guns as well, if they need them.
“At this point in time, the policy lists several items that the officers have access to. They do not necessarily carry those with them at all times,” Prijatelj said. “The purpose is so that if there is a situation, heaven forbid, they will have access to what they need equipment-wise to deal with it.”
Prijatelj said the district has a complete police department certified by the state and three school resource officers who attended the police academy. Officers must complete the Patrol Rifle Operators Program to use the AR-15s.
The policy change (page 7 at the link) does not require the rifles to be locked up, but Bill Pfeffer, the director of safety and security for the Altoona Area School District, said they will be “secured” and only accessed if there’s a threat.
“Officers will not be walking around hallways or around campuses with these on, no,” Pfeffer said.
No one spoke during the public comment period and the board passed the measure unanimously.
At least a few other school districts nationwide have passed similar policy changes allowing the AR-15s, including Bismarck, North Dakota; Madison County, North Carolina; and Pittston, Pennsylvania.