LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Middle and high schools in Los Alamos will soon have gun safes full of shotguns and semi-automatic weapons on campus.

The Los Alamos School Board on Thursday approved Police Chief Dino Sgambellone’s request to have police-owned gun safes installed inside the schools.

“It will be stocked with shotguns and AR 15s,” Sgambellone said. “The reason for that is, and this isn’t in all cases, but in some layouts of schools a pistol is not an appropriate weapon because of the long hallways. Also, a pistol does not always appropriately counter what is brought to these types of situations.”

The safes will help officers respond more quickly in the case of an active shooter, Sgambellone said. Often valuable time is lost when officers have to run back out to their car to retrieve the weapons they need to handle a shooter situation, he said.

“Even the two minutes it would take to get there and back lives are potentially being lost. So to have more of a quick access that’s left in a secure fashion and would only be taken out during the most extreme situations to me is prudent,” Sgambellone said.

The cases will be bolted down in a secure area, and only police officers will have access to the equipment.

The safes are still in planning stages and there are still a number of things to do before they are placed, Sgambellone said.

The police department has one officer permanently stationed at the high school and one at the middle school, and one officer who routinely patrols the five elementary schools. “You know there’s a weapon on school premises anyway with the (school officers) themselves, so we’re just asking for secure way to keep additional weapons should the event arise,” Sgambellone said.