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.”
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online petition urging the board to reject the proposal, expressed relief Thursday after learning the request had been withdrawn.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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