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Police ask Illinois school district to let them install gun safes

Four high schools in an Illinois school district could get some firepower for added protection if the Police Department has its way.

Police in Plainfield, a town of 37,000 about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, asked the district to install locked gun safes to keep a rifle and important information at several schools in the event there's a shooter on campus, according to Plainfield School District 202.

The safe could include a "long gun, such as an AR 15 rifle," according to the request, and would be stored in the offices of school police officers, who would be the only ones with access.

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The request was made for Plainfield Central Campus, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield Academy. Plainfield South High School was not be included.

"Unfortunately, in today’s society active shooter incidents are no longer something we see on TV," Police Chief John Konopek said in a statement. "They are reality."

Plainfield hasn't experienced a campus shooting, and Konopek said he wants to keep it that way.

"We have found, through our training, officers are much better equipped to handle this type of incident utilizing a long gun … rather than a handgun," he said.

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The school board has not yet voted on the request. A committee is set to review it Sept. 19.

The debate over how to best protect students and staff in the nation's schools has increased in the last few years.

"A lot of (school) boards don't even want police with guns on campus," Peter Pochowski of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials, told NBC News.

Pochowski said he's not aware of any other school in the nation at which police use safes for gun storage on campus.

One Texas school district allows teachers and staff members to bring guns in order to deter and protect against school shootings. 

The Harrold Independent School District approved the measure in 2008 partly because of the 30-minute drive it would take for police to respond to emergencies on school grounds. The district has only one school, with all students attending class in the same building.

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