BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Police in Bismarck, North Dakota, requested funding in the city’s 2019 budget for equipment that includes AR-15 rifles for school resource officers.
Bismarck Public Schools and the Bismarck Police Department plan to share the cost of purchasing nearly $26,000 worth of AR-15s, gun safes, additional bulletproof vests and medical kits, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
The district won’t fund the acquisition of firearms and the rifles will be locked up in the schools, according to district officials.
Police and school officials began considering rifles for school resource officers after a gunman in February killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, said Lt. Jason Stugelmeyer, who oversees the department’s Police Youth Bureau. The bureau includes six school resource officers.
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The Bismarck officers currently carry handguns, which Stugelmeyer said won’t help if they need to shoot from a distance.
“I fully believe that we have some solid preventative measures in place, and generally our schools are safe,” he said. “But we have to do everything we can to be prepared for something if it did happen.”
District leaders also agree the rifles would increase school safety.
“I think we have to take any kind of threat to our kids seriously,” said district Interim Supt. Jim Haussler. “I don’t think (the police department’s) request would’ve been made without them believing that (the rifles) will provide them with the tools necessary.”
The 2019 city budget has not yet been finalized. If the request is approved, Bismarck police will receive the funds in January.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com