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Fontana, Calif., school police get high-powered rifles

FONTANA, Calif. — The school police force in this Southern California city has acquired 14 high-powered semiautomatic rifles for officers to bring to campuses.

Fontana Unified School District police purchased 14 of the Colt LE6940 rifles last fall, and they were delivered in early December, a week before a gunman killed 26 students and educators at a Connecticut elementary school.

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‘‘I think it just further solidified the need to give our officers the tools they need to respond to an active shooter on campus,’’ schools Police Chief Billy Green said Wednesday about the tragedy.

The rifles were purchased to address a ‘‘critical vulnerability,’’ although there has never been such an attack at any of the 45 Fontana campuses, the chief said. The 14 officers currently carry handguns, according to police officials.

The weapons, which cost $1,000 each, are high-powered weapons that are accurate at longer range and can pierce body armor.

The guns are stored in a fireproof safe at school police headquarters. Officers who have received 40 hours of training in their use can check them out and keep them in locked safes at high school and middle school police offices during school hours before returning them, Green said.

The guns did not require approval from the school board but member Leticia Garcia said she will ask the board to discuss the issue.

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