BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - Most Broken Arrow police officers will soon be armed with high-powered rifles.
City councilors just approved funding to add more AR-15 rifles to the police force.
Police say it's a necessary public safety measure. They say the kind of criminals they're seeing are becoming more and more heavily armed.
Cpl. Leon Calhoun says some police officers have used these lightweight, semi-automatic rifles for awhile. He says the police department provided the training, but officers had to buy their own rifles.
Now 90 officers ranked sergeant and below will carry them.
"The AR-15 offers great accuracy, they're light, they're easy to maintain," Calhoun said.
In addition to their handguns and shotguns, Calhoun says AR-15s will help officers keep up with criminals.
"Suspects are now using semi-automatic or fully automatic rifles and weapons such as that. And this is giving us a tool to be able to counter that threat," he said.
He says they won't use the AR-15s in every day situations. And officers have to go through a rifle training course and yearly recertifications before they can use them.
"It would only be used when there's a potential threat where the AR-15 might be a more accurate or more useful weapon for us to be able to defend ourselves and others," Calhoun said.
Some residents think the upgrade is necessary.
"I believe that as society changes, they need to be equipped, be able to handle -- you know as things change, they need the equipment to be able to protect the community," said George Wagoner.
The rifles will be secured at the police station when officers are off duty. Broken Arrow police plan to phase out their shotguns in the future.
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