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O.C. school district keeps rifles, but not on campuses

SANTA ANA – Santa Ana Unified, the only Orange County school district with its own police force, says that certain officers are trained to use department-issued assault rifles, but none of the high-powered guns or other weapons is stored on campuses.

The district's police department has no plans to alter its rifle program, which is about 2 years old, said district spokeswoman Deidra Powell.

"It's never been a concern or issue," Powell said of Orange County's largest school district, which has 57,300 students.

The Fontana Unified School District in the Inland Empire is storing 14 Colt 6940 rifles in locked safes on its campuses, to be used by the school district's police department in the event of a campus attack, Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks said this week.

The rifles were ordered in fall, before the Connecticut school massacre, and were placed at the campuses last month.

Fontana city Police Chief Rodney Jones told a local TV news station that the high-powered weapons are the best message to send to anyone thinking about harming children.

Critics say such guns have no place on campuses, and that the $14,000 should have been used to restore counseling programs that have been eliminated.

Powell said Santa Ana Unified's assault rifles can be retrieved only in an emergency and only by officers trained to use them.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7802 or or Twitter: @MartindaleScott

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