The balance of power between the bad guys and the good guys has shifted to a more equal footing in Edmond.

Earlier this week, the Edmond City Council gave the city’s Police Department permission to spend $30,000 to buy 36 AR-15 Colt rifles for patrol officers and $49,000 to buy 18 night vision scopes for members of the Emergency Response Team.

Currently, not every patrol officer is armed with a department-issued rifle. Five patrol officers are using their own rifles as their on-duty weapons, said Edmond Police spokeswoman Glynda Chu.

But with the addition of the 36 new guns, all 52 patrol officers will have department-issued rifles in their arsenal.

Rifles are far more effective in certain situations than pistols, one officer said.

“I feel that the rifle should be an officer’s primary weapon,” said Officer David Weathers.

Rifles give the officer more offensive firepower, because they’re more powerful than a pistol, more accurate at greater distances, and a rifle magazine can hold 30 rounds of ammunition, Weathers said. A handgun holds only 14 rounds, he said.

Many criminals now arm themselves with high-powered rifles, making it necessary for officers to do the same, Weathers said, so equipping officers with rifles makes sure they don’t find themselves “outgunned” by the criminals.

If patrol officers were to find themselves in an active-shooter situation today like the incident at Columbine High School several years ago, they might have to wait for the department’s ERT team to respond, Chu said. All of the ERT team members carry rifles.

“This will be an important step to preventing unnecessary loss of life in these situations,” Chu said.

The night-vision scopes are state-of-the-art vision tools that can be mounted on helmets, guns or rifles, and are the same scopes now used by the military and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Chu said.

The addition of the scopes to the ERT team’s tools brings Edmond’s ERT team on par with any ERT team in Oklahoma, Chu said.

(David Hartman can be reached by e-mail at dhartman@edmondsun.com)

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