OKC Police Chief Changes Course, Allows Rifles for Officers18-Jul-2016
Last week, citing the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) asked Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty to change the way OKC police are equipped to handle active shooter situations. The union requested that police officers be issued additional body armor and that they be allowed to carry rifles. Knowing that it would be difficult to place police-issued rifles in the hands of every officer who wanted one, the FOP asked the city police department to allow officers to carry their own personal rifles and ammunition in the case of an assault similar to the one in Dallas.
In the request to Chief Citty, FOP president Master Sgt. John George wrote:
"The Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police respectfully pleads with you and our city to allow officers to be properly equipped for these types of situations. We are asking that officers be allowed to carry personally owned rifles to protect themselves and our citizens. Allowing our officers to carry rifles could help end a dangerous situation sooner and save innocent lives."
However, the Oklahoma City police chief said the number of rifles available to officers (200, with an additional 85 on the way) was sufficient for most calls. He rejected the request as "alarmist," calling the assault against Dallas police officers "an aberration . . . not something that happens every day or happens very often."
But then, four days later, Baton Rouge. Suspect Gavin Long shot six police officers responding to a call about an armed man. Three of those officers died before a SWAT team bullet killed Long. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie, Jr., called the SWAT team rifleman's shot "a helluva shot," and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux told reporters that if the SWAT team had not arrived when it did, the three injured lawmen would have been killed, and Long would have continued the shooting spree, killing even more law enforcement officers.
With two similar assaults in less than two weeks, Chief Citty is no longer calling the rifle attacks an aberration. Instead, he says, "One event doesn’t make a pattern; it may not happen again. But when you have two in a row, you have some issues going on." In light of the attack on police in Baton Rouge, Citty has reconsidered his earlier rejection of the FOP request and determined that any Oklahoma City police officer who wants to carry a rifle will be issued one. Until those rifles become available, OKC police will be able to carry their personal rifles.
In reversing his decision, the Oklahoma City Police Chief said, "After Baton Rouge, everything I thought before is just out the window. Is it more than we probably need? Maybe, but the officers out there have to feel like they have what they need on a call."
George responded favorably to the Chief's reversal of the FOP request, saying, "We hope and pray the events in Dallas and Baton Rouge don't reach us here in Oklahoma City, but with these changes, we are confident officers will be better prepared to deal with the types of violence recently experienced around the country."
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