Savannah-Chatham Metro Police could soon allow patrol officers to carry AR-15s on-duty

Pictured above is a look inside of local gun shop, Thunderbolt Guns. The AR-15 semi-automatic rifles are pictures in the middle row.

Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst…

That’s the idea behind the Savannah police chief’s proposal to allow officers to arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons on the job.

Chief Joseph Lumpkin says he believes officers need to be able to adequately protect themselves in order to protect the people of Savannah.

News 3’s Courtney Cole spoke to the chief to find out exactly what he wants to do.

“We’re considering patrol rifles because of the status of the world, and Savannah.”

Chief Joseph Lumpkin of the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police says it’s all to keep people and the officers–safe.

“…Hand fire arms are not sufficient when an individual may have a long rifle or a shoulder weapon,” Lumpkin told News 3.

Right now police officers in Savannah carry a .45-caliber handgun.

So which weapon would he like to see them carry?- The semi-automatic rifle, AR-15.

But the chief says not all officers would carry them, because the city is not providing them.

“..Individuals will determine whether they want to carry the weapon or not, because they’re going to have to purchase or already own,” said Lumpkin.

Each officer will also be required  to have their weapon, comfortability and skill-level approved before heading out into the streets.

“…The efficiency of the officer with a hand weapon will be actually determined. If a person doesn’t shoot 90-percent with the hand weapon, we’re not going to start training them to shoot with a rifle,” Lumpkin said.

The difference between the two weapons is:

The AR-15 will allow you to shoot more accurately at a distance, while the 45-caliber will only be helpful if you’re shooting in close range.

Although the police department does already have a SWAT team that carries similar weapons–Chief Lumpkin says he believes patrol officers need more protection.

“Patrol officers are the basic backbone of the police department. They answer all calls. They are the ones–when you call 9-1-1, that will respond to you regardless of the issue.”

Chief Lumpkin says patrol officers won’t be walking around and carrying the semi-automatic weapons out in the open, instead they’ll keep them inside of their patrol cars.

And that won’t happen until at least the start of the new year in 2016.

 

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