COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) – A push is underway to outfit all patrol officers in Colonial Heights with an assault rifle. The department says the weapons are needed for each patrol officer to better protect the community and law enforcement.
The rifles cost about $1,200 each.
"Increasingly law enforcement has faced greater threats. We want to be able to respond to whatever threats we are faced with," said Sgt. Robert Ruxer.
Right now, 20 patrol officers in Colonial Heights are outfitted with rifles. The department is looking to purchase 12 more so all patrol officers are outfitted with the weapon.
"It allows us to better get a target from long range and if we're setting up a perimeter it allows us to maintain a safe distance," said Ruxer.
The department says maintaining a safe distance is important in the event of a stand-off or a situation where a gunmen fires at the public or police.
"We need to keep up with the criminals. We need to be able to keep up with the types of weapons and body armor they have," said Ruxer.
Some residents we spoke with call the need, surprising. They question if money for the rifles could be better spent.
"It's a small city compared to others and it seems to me - I haven't heard of a large number of crimes that there may be a need for a riffle," said Harry Turner.
According to Richmond Police, only some of its patrol officers are outfitted with rifles. The same is true for Chesterfield. In Henrico, the department says it could not speak specifically about its resources.
Colonial Heights Police Department admits it hasn't often used the rifles it already has on hand.
"We'd rather have them out their ready to use as needed," said Ruxer.
The department just secured a $3,500 grant to purchase two additional rifles. The goal is to have all of its patrol officers armed with a riffle within the next two years. The department also says that all patrol officers are thoroughly trained on how to properly operate an assault rifle.