Tulsa Police are beefing up their firepower

Tuesday, November 23rd 2004, 10:21 am
By: News On 6

100 Tulsa Police patrol officers are adding a new weapon to their arsenal of crime fighting tools.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains what these weapons are and why police say they need them.

The rifles can shoot from greater distances and with great accuracy. The officers who volunteered to carry them, feel so strongly about it, they paid for the $700 rifles out of their own pockets, because there's no funding or them.

The first class of 10 patrol officers spent the day Tuesday at TPD’s firearm range to learn how to and when to shoot their new Colt AR-15, 223 caliber rifles.

The department picked the rifles because they let an officer get further away from a suspect than the traditional police shotgun, which has an effective range of about 25 yards. Further away means keeping the officers safer and gives them more reaction time. Plus the round breaks apart quickly on impact, which could be safer for citizens if officers miss whom they are shooting at.

Tulsa Police rangemaster Sgt. Rick Weigel: "Which means we don't have to worry about it traveling a quarter of a mile away and hitting a jogger. It fragments when it hits anything substantial."

One reason officers say they need these rifles is because the criminals they encounter are often better armed and that's not good when you're trying to protect the public. That was certainly the case recently when an ex-con was stopped with a carload of assault rifles and handguns. Tulsa Police say it's more and more common, especially with all the meth dealers.

Still, even though officers are trained and skilled, they say shooting decisions in real life, are nothing like many people perceive. "It's dark, it's quick and there's that question of does he have a gun or doesn't he and if you're too slow, you don't go home that night. There's all those things and it's nothing like on TV, nothing like Hollywood portrays."

Police also say they are encountering more criminals who wear bulletproof vests, which protects them from traditional police guns and shotguns. These rifles will penetrate that and they say officers in the field often need that fire power right then, rather than waiting a half hour for the special operations team to arrive.