Tulsa businessman helps Tulsa Police purchase new rifles

Tuesday, January 11th 2005, 11:04 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Police Department is $100,000 richer, thanks to a donation from Tulsan Walt Helmerich. Helmerich made the donation after learning police officers had to buy new rifles with their own money.

As News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains, the gift means the department can now buy at least a hundred new rifles.

The News on 6 aired a story in November about select patrol officers learning to shoot their new Colt-AR-15, 223 caliber rifles. Tulsa Police say the rifles are needed, because officers are frequently out-gunned by the criminals. Even though the need was there, the money wasn't, so the officers were asked to pay for the rifles out of their own pockets, and they did.

After that story aired, Police Chief Dave Been got a call from longtime Tulsa businessman and charitable contributor Walt Helmerich. Chief Dave Been: "He didn't think and I agreed that officers who don't make much money anyway should have to pay for their own weapons and the city council just approved that gift last Thursday."

The police department believes officers and citizens will both be safer if officers on street patrol have these guns, not just SWAT team members because those officers are often the first line of defense. And with the assault weapons ban recently lifted, the situation could get even worse. "We're in a position where we're tired of our officers being outgunned."

Helmerich's gift will allow the department to buy 30 rifles for each division, which puts 10 on each shift in addition to the officers who already purchased their own. "The officers appreciate the citizen support and stepping up especially now and I appreciate it personally and he's a good friend to the city and the department."

The gift of the rifles allows officers to be armed with the knowledge that citizens do support their efforts and that kind of support hits a bulls-eye every time. The officers who carry the new rifles must go through a training program first.

The department hopes to have the new rifles by spring.