The Sheriff’s Office recently traded some of their evidence guns and surplus weapons for 17 DPMS semi-automatic .223 rifles. Sheriff Smith pointed out that all 17 rifles will be made available for use by deputies in patrol. Each rifle will be tailored to an individual officer increasing their ability to defend themselves and others more diligently.
“These rifles need to be zeroed to each individual officer,” Smith said. “With the right ammunition these weapons are more effective and safer in certain circumstances than a normal duty handgun.”
Every deputy in the Sheriff’s Office will receive training on these weapons although only 17 will be issued. Currently, Smith states he will acquire additional through a government surplus program until each of his officers have the weapons they need for their safety. Training started Monday and the troops have been looking forward to this for a long time.
Smith states, “These rifles are gaining popularity with the law enforcement community because more and more criminals are better armed and in some rare instances, are wearing body armor that handgun ammo will not defeat. Example is the North Hollywood bank robbery. Don’t get me wrong, the shotgun has a place in our arsenal but the rifle is becoming a necessary part of the law enforcement inventory because shotgun buckshot loads fire a more indiscriminate pattern where the rifle is more exact in the hands of a trained user.”
“Our rifles will be capable of defeating body armor but with the correct ammunition will not over penetrate as much in homes if officers miss their targets in comparison to handgun rounds which was of great concern to me.”
Sheriff Smith also said that these rifles will only be used in certain situations where there is a greater likelihood of violence and officer safety is at a premium. Officer deaths related to gunfire are already up 600 percent nationwide this year thats only 6 weeks into 2010 then all of last year combined (http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/)
“The only time an officer would use this rifle is if they have reason to believe there is some type of deadly-force threat out there,” Smith said.Sheriff Smith stated that his officers’ safety is his top concern and after the armed stand- off north of our jail by a homicide subject just a few months ago, and Dixie County Capt. Chad Reed’s death, he felt had to act because it was the right thing to do.