(WAFF) - Would you feel safer if all law enforcement carried AR-15s? Sadly, with mass shootings happening more frequently we wanted to find out which departments in north Alabama already have AR-15s as part of their arsenals.
Most sheriff departments in the Tennessee Valley provide AR-15s to all of their deputies, and many police chiefs are trying to find the money in their budgets so they can do the same.
"We want to make sure that our officers have the equipment they need for anything that happens in the field," said Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department.
Law enforcement across the country are re-evaluating their arsenals after recent mass shootings.
Here is a list of the agencies here in north Alabama that arm their officers with AR-15s:
- Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office - since previous sheriff
- Jackson County Sheriff’s Office - at least seven years
- Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office - some are personally owned
- Limestone County Sheriff’s Office - at least four years
- Muscle Shoals Police Department - several years
- Colbert County Sheriff’s Office a Arm officers with M16 from the 1033 program (took off the fully automatic part and made them semiautomatic)
- Rogersville Police Department
Agencies that are in the process or want to arm all of their officers with AR-15s:
- Franklin County Sheriff’s Office - In the next 60 days
- Florence Police Department - They have some, but officers have to purchase the rifles themselves
- Marshall County Sheriff’s Office - Only the special unit has them
- Decatur Police Department - In the next three years
- Huntsville Police Department - By the end of 2018
If a department is not listed we have not received information from the agency.
Seventy-five percent of Huntsville police officers are trained to use this style of rifle, but the department doesn't have all the guns yet to send each uniformed officer with an AR-15.
"The firepower that criminals are using right now, and of course what you have seen on TV, it just doesn't make sense to just carry pistols," Johnson said.
Many departments said it's up to the sheriff or police chief to push for the weapon.
"There was really nothing that prompted us to get them except for the sheriff to believe that if anyone out there that has a criminal mind and wants to bring harm to the citizens of Madison County, I want my deputies to be equally equipped to them whenever they have to go and face them," said Lt. Donny Shaw with Madison County Sheriff's Office.
Officers who carry the AR-15 must go through a multiday training period for that specific weapon.
"And qualify once a year with their service weapon so they are well-trained and up to speed on how to use it," Shaw said.
Also, guns aren't the only weapon being used for destruction. Officers said AR-15s will help when vehicles are being used to kill.
"It puts us on an equal playing field with any weapon that anyone can bring to the table to be an active killer," Shaw said.
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