04/19/12 — Police add assault rifles to arsenal

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Police add assault rifles to arsenal

By Gary Popp
Published in News on April 19, 2012 1:46 PM

Goldsboro patrol officers will soon be armed with assault rifles and new stun devices, and Interim Police Chief Maj. Jeff Stewart said the addition of AR-15 rifles and handheld TASER X2 units will make officers safer on the street and better prepared in situations where suspects are carrying high-powered firearms.

"This will help modernize the department and give officers another option to protect themselves and the citizens," he said.

Patrol officers and members of the department's Selective Enforcement Unit will be authorized to carry the rifles, but only after they receive proper training, a process Stewart hopes will be completed by the middle of June.

And the assault rifles, he added, are a necessary addition to the Glock handguns and .870 shotguns that make up the majority of the firearms carried by patrol officers.

Stewart declined to comment on how many of the high-powered rifles the department has acquired, but said he hopes to have each of the department's patrol officers carrying a TASER X2 by September.

He said the use of TASER devices at other law enforcement agencies has proven to decrease the number of officer and suspect injuries.

"Just the presence of a TASER can deter a suspect from elevating a verbal confrontation to a physical altercation," Stewart said.

Unlike a stun gun, in which contact with a person must be made, the TASER can be used at a short distance.

And arming the officers with the non-lethal devices will prevent circumstances in which officers are forced to tackle and wrestle with suspect s who refuse to comply, Stewart added.

The TASER X2 is equipped with a laser that projects where the prongs will strike a subject -- and has two cartridges, which would allow an officer to use the device on two suspects before needing to reload.

Officers can operate the device by delivering a drive stun, in which the unit is pressed directly against a person's body, or by deploying a prong from the unit, which has a range of up to 25 feet.

The approximate cost of each TASER device is $1,000 and Stewart said it would be ideal for the department to receive 40 of the devices to be shared among the nearly 80 officers who work patrol shifts.

Agencies in Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Cincinnati and Florida's Orange County have reported a drop in officer injuries of 50 to 80 percent after staring the use of the TASER systems. And those agencies reported a decline in suspect injury of 40 to 79 percent.

Other data provided by Goldsboro police stated that 184,000 officers in the country are already carrying TASER units.

"This is a level of safety we have wanted to provide to our officers and the public for some time," Stewart said. "We are one of the last agencies in the state to use (a TASER system)."