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No Gun Safes in Plainfield Schools: Police Withdraw Rifle Request

Chief John Konopek sent a letter to Plainfield School District 202 Wednesday taking the proposal off the table.

Police patrolling schools won’t carry rifles anytime soon.

After a request to install gun safes in three of the four Plainfield schools drew national media attention,  sent a letter to officials withdrawing the proposal.

Chief John Konopek sent a letter late Wednesday to Superintendent John Harper and Board of Education President Roger Bonuchi withdrawing a request to install locked gun safes at , ,  and . 

In his Sept. 5 letter, Konopek said he still “strongly supports” the proposal, but wanted to eliminate the request for several reasons.

“First and foremost it has changed the focus on what people should be concentrating on within the Plainfield School District, that being education,” he wrote, adding, “with the amount of media attention this topic has received I feel that some of the proposed security measures that would have been implemented have been compromised.”

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Konopek did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Plainfield Patch.

The proposal, presented to board members at an Aug. 20 meeting, called for installing locked safes to store school resource officer’s AR-15 rifle. The safes would have been accessible only to the officer.

Konopek cited research showing that a long gun, as opposed to a handgun, is more accurate at longer distances and would put the school resource officer (SRO) in a better position to respond to an active shooter.

The plan did not include , which is under the jurisdiction of Joliet police, and was designed to better equip SROs to handle a school shooting scenario. 

The proposal was scheduled to be reviewed by a board of education committee on Sept. 19. The soonest it could have gone before the board for a vote would have been Sept. 24.

Plainfield resident Colleen Curry, who launched an online petition urging the board to reject the proposal, expressed relief Thursday after learning the request had been withdrawn.

“That’s very exciting,” Curry said. “I’m very happy that they decided against bringing assault rifles into our schools.”

While Curry said she would have been in favor of adding more on-campus SROs or installing metal detectors, she felt the gun safe proposal was “alarmist.”

As of Thursday, Curry’s petition had more than 430 signatures. The Plainfield mom planned to present it to the board of education at its Sept. 10 meeting.

Curry said she still plans to send the petition to board members.

In a statement, board president Bonuchi reacted to Konopek’s request to withdraw the proposal.

“We appreciate the police department’s concern for the safety of our students and staff and our continued partnership with all of our law enforcement agencies,” Bonuchi said.

In an email, District 202 Community Relations Director Tom Hernandez said the district would have no further comment on the issue.

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T-Bone September 07, 2012 at 09:17 AM
Hugo, I think it says the PPD pulled the plug not the Board. This didn't even meet the 80-20 rule! PPD didn't even want to fight 1% of the residents of the Village! If I knew 430 people could scare away the Chief of Police I would have started petitions about other issues a long time ago. Weak!
Mayhem September 07, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Yeah, a cell phone is going to do the trick huh? Not even close! If a shooter was to enter a building, there could be many peoples lives taken within a matter of minutes. Some of you Plainfield parents need to open your eyes and stop thinking that we are living in a perfect little community. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but it is a fact. Plainfield schools are just as vulnerable as any inner city scool in the country. Take a look at some of the factors leading up to other school shootings. Do you people think that those scenarios don't apply to kids in Plainfield? Well folks, they do. As someone who is in Juvenile corrections, I have seen kids on a daily basis with the potential to walk into a school and shoot the place up. Why would you not want an SRO to have the needed means to protect your children if need be? Makes no sense.
T-Bone September 07, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Well the Chief could have Manned Up and not folded over a petition with 430 signatures! This proves if you are loud you get noticed. I see more comments backing the Long Rifles now that it has been dropped then when it was an actually still going to the Board. Same people who don't vote and then complain about the outcome. I wonder how many residents called the Chief with support because he obviously got the message from the Adversary!
Mayhem September 07, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I can't speak for everyone, but I do know several people that did approach the Chief supporting the idea. Just because the request is being withdrawn now, does not mean it will not be brought back up in the near future.
Olddeegee September 07, 2012 at 01:00 PM
"Man up"? That's the problem. Guns don't make you a man. This is about keeping a school environment safe. A disgruntled employee could have access to the guns and that's reason enough to bar them.
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I also voted against have the safe and weapon in the school. As a practical matter, if a shooter walks into any school with the intent to kill, having a weapon on school grounds is not going to stop him/her. It stands to reason, that if someone wants to kill people, they will commence firing at whatever their target may be, and any response by a SRO will be terribly late, as the shooter would have accomplished his mission. Also, cell phones have the ability to place a 911 call to police almost immediately after a threat has been discovered, and the response of a tach unit would be almost immediate, but again, the damage would have already been done. There is literally no way to stop a school shooting, much less so by having a rifle in the school safe.
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 02:00 PM
@T-Bone The last sentence in your comment says it all. It shows where you get all of your "talking points" from.
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I agree with most of your statement, except the last part. Yes, an officer can "take out" a shooter, and even if there was a rifle on school grounds that could be quickly accessed, the shooter would have already done his work. Having a rifle on grounds won't stop a determined person from carrying out his action.
Hugo September 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Thanks to the busy-body moms of Plainfield, the SROs will, in a couple years, QUIETLY get a safe for their office. Lesson learned about being up front about stuff. If the baboons simply don't hear about it, they won't shriek.
Ernie Knight September 07, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I love all the Patch "experts" on police and SWAT tactics and weapons. The analyses, knowledge and training of the real experts who have studied active shooter situations in schools, are not as important to them as having their own opinion.
Rob September 07, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I'm sorry Grandpamike you are completely wrong. An active shooter must be stopped immediately, an Officer assigned to the school (SRO) would be able to engage and hopefully kill the shooter before more lives are taken. The road Officers responding would not wait for a TAC team or any type of multi jurisdictional swat team to get paged out and respond either. They would enter the building and engage the active shooter before others are shot and killed. Not sure if I understand your post but an SRO is a Police Officer equipped with his radio and other tools (gun, handcuffs) to assist him. Additional cell phones are useless and the poster T-Bone...to say it politely lacks life experience and quite frankly showed his ignorance of the matter in his posts.
Tom H September 07, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Agreed 100% with you HUGO. it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission sometimes. You will for sure see safes in Plainfield Schools in the near future.
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 03:47 PM
@Rob, For a SRO to be effective, he would have to be stationed at the front door or hallway in the school. How many cases of school shootings can you point to where anyone stopped a shooter at the front door ? Are you suggesting that we place police officers at every school in the district as a precaution ? Having a weapon in a school safe is not protection, as I stated before, the act would have already taken place. This suggestion is almost as dumb as the one to "let's arm all the teachers" so they can protect the students.
Rob September 07, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Grandpamike the act is ongoing, active shooters as recently history has taught us don't stop after after one shot. They continue to find targets until they are challenged or take their own life. To answer your question, yes Officer's should be placed at every high school in the district. SRO's should always be in the halls during passing periods, in the cafeteria during lunch's and near the high traffic areas during arrival and dismissal. Any SRO that is not isn't doing their job. Now remember SRO's are dressed down and are not carrying the AR-15 slung around their neck and shoulder but still have their basic tools accessible to them to protect themselves as well as the staff and students. Facing a subject or multiple subjects with head to toe body armor and/or automatic weapons the Officer will immediately be out armed. By the time the road Officers respond and enter as a react team the scene will be very grim. Unfortunately they will have to beat someone at their very best, (months of planning, knowledge of SRO's schedule, more weapons at disposal) at their very worst, (mass chaos/confusion, no knowledge of number of subjects or weapons).
T-Bone September 07, 2012 at 06:05 PM
No Gramps, That is why I said "Your Leader" not "Our Leader"! I think on my own and need no one telling me how to think. Good currnt event comment though. 5 extra credit points for you!
T-Bone September 07, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I meant it as have some balls. Not pound your chest holding a rifle. If he feels strong enough to make this request, then stand behind it and let the Board decide. When he backed down this easy it makes him look weak in the publics eye! He is the Chief!
Ed Arter September 07, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Thanks Shannon--Looks all clear now
Tom H September 07, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Well it's pretty obvious GRANDPAMIKE, is just shooting from his hip on knowledge about this matter and is attempting to throw his 2 cents in this conversation. On the other hand, ROB seems to be well educated on this matter and is prolly an officer or school official who has the knowledge on this matter. Keep it coming ROB, I enjoy reading your comments.
my conscience September 07, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Tim is under a bit of stress now. I do believe these are his true feelings, and can't imagine how hard it is for him suppressing these thoughts when at the Village
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 09:19 PM
@Tom H It is my OPINION which I am entitled to. When you personally attack someone from stating an opinion, instead of the subject, it just shows a lack of manners and of a person with nothing to say.
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 09:33 PM
@T-Bone Exactly. Your leader not mine, do you actually know what you said ?
Tom H September 07, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I'm not personally attacking you, but just have issues with people that think they have the facts on certain things on the Patch. I'm not saying you are one, but there are plenty on this site
Grandpamike September 07, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Tom H As I stated above, it is my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. I was not commenting from a factual point of view, as I don't work in or have experience in police work, I do have extensive military experience, which is similar in scope, but in any case, the subject is about protecting children, and my OPINION is that having weapons on school grounds will not stop a dedicated shooter from killing people. Besides, who would want to raise taxes to cover additional police staff at all the schools in Plainfield ?
T-Bone September 08, 2012 at 12:36 AM
You just don't get it...That is the beauty of the english language, you can twist it and turn it anyway you want it to sound and then act dumb like you didn't know what someone really meant. I don't have a Leader, I am a Leader...Now do you understand?!
T-Bone September 08, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I love when people get on a Blog like this and get mad when they read peoples comments! You want facts, go to JJC and take a class. You want entertainment and opinions, read the Patch. You can't handle it, go do something else. Tom H doesn't stand for Tom Hernandez does it? That would explain a lot!
Grandpamike September 08, 2012 at 12:00 PM
@T-Bone Yes, I finally do, you are delusional.......
T-Bone September 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
That's funny!
Tim September 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Are you admitting that you think a public taxing body will attempt to do something in secret, that it was explicitly told by its voters not to do? Illinois has a wonderful thing called the 'Open Meetings Act'. Attempting to 'hide' any discussion about installing guns in the schools would not only be a slap in the face to the voters, but would be illegal. People will be watching now.
Lisa S. September 10, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Amen. And thank you Colleen Curry for making our schools LESS safe.
Ernie Knight September 11, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Ron, You still don't get it. Pistols are for clearing small rooms and tight confines. Rifles are for everything else. I never talked abour football fields. That was your invention. You know when SWAT goes into a building (not even one near as large as a high school) and they're carrying RIFLES? They're not for decoration, Ron. The AR-15 .223 round is specifically chosen because it does not overpenetrate like other rifle rounds. Do your homework. And no one is talking prevention except you.

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