Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wichita police want to add rifles in cars

Wichita police officials are exploring the possibility of adding rifles to patrol cars to give officers more firepower in responding to potentially violent situations.."Without the rifles, we were under-equipped to deal with a lot of situations," said Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy, who issued rifles to deputies about two years ago. "You have situations out here where the first officer on the scene may need to go into battle right then if he's going to save lives. "All we had were shotguns and hand weapons," he said. "Well, that wasn't going to get it done."..Wichita's Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, teams already have rifles. Each SWAT member is assigned their own rifle, Williams said.
But incidents around the nation in recent years alerted law enforcement agencies to a possible need for more firepower, local authorities said. Among them:
* The attempted robbery of a bank in North Hollywood, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1997, where two men dressed in body armor and armed with high-powered rifles engaged in a running gun battle with law enforcement that lasted for nearly an hour before the men were killed.
Six officers and six bystanders were wounded in the gun battle, during which officers had to go to a nearby gun store to obtain rifles and other weapons with more firepower than their handguns.
* School shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, as well as a middle school in Russia.
"It used to be that if you had an active-shooter situation, you'd call in SWAT and set up a perimeter, and then move in," Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said. "But Columbine and other school shootings, other spree shootings, showed you can't afford to wait.
"The sooner you can mount a response to that, the more lives that are saved and the sooner you can bring it to a resolution," he said. "We can't just send people into harm's way without having the right tools."
Sedgwick County has 35 rifles in its arsenal, deployed mostly with deputies on patrol. The department plans to double that number soon, Hinshaw said.
A rifle is a much better weapon than a shotgun, he said, because it's more accurate and has a much longer range.
The M4s used by sheriff's officers have an effective range of about 300 yards, compared with 50 yards for a shotgun, he said.
"A violent criminal who's using body armor — it's becoming much more prevalent,"
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