DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Decatur is arming its front line officers with AR-15s.
The city council unanimously voted Monday to buy more semiautomatic guns for their officers. Many on the city council said it's about arming their officers with the tools they need to protect the city. Twenty AR-15s will be added to their existing arsenal.
"Our goal here is to protect the citizens of Decatur," said Police Chief Nate Allen.
Allen hopes in three years all 140 of his officers will have AR-15s, and with the City Council approval, Monday is just the first step towards that goal.The chief said the rifles will be safely locked in the officers' patrol cars.
"They will be accessible to the officers at a moment's notice when needed," Allen said.
It's about preparing police for a worst-case scenarios like mass shootings, making sure they'll be ready if the call comes.
"If we have an officer on scene that is not equipped with his rifle, that could cause a delay in the response and that could cause a problem and that could cause lives to be lost, and we certainly want to avoid that at all cost," said Decatur City Council President Paige Bibbee.
The new firearms will cost the city $24,055.
It's been a plan to arm their officers with the same weapons since Allen took over the Decatur Police Department nearly two years ago.
"If an officer goes down and the officer behind him needs to borrow that weapon to continue fighting then he will be trained in that weapon," Bibbee said. "There won't be confusion like that this isn't the weapon that I'm trained in and be pause in the defense. He would already be trained, automatically know what to be trained in."
Before the officers use the AR-15s they'll undergo further training.
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