OKLAHOMA CITY – Following a deadly shooting that claimed the lives of three Baton Rouge police officers, local authorities say they are working to better protect Oklahoma City officers.
Last week, the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, pleading that officers be better equipped for active shooter situations.
“It really turned my stomach and made me sick when I watched the Dallas news footage, and I saw officers just with handguns only running toward a guy with a high-powered rifle and ballistic vest and getting gunned down,” FOP President John George said.
George asked Chief Citty to allow officers to carry their personal rifles if they are approved models and if the officers have undergone the required training.
At the time, Citty told NewsChannel 4 that he didn’t believe that every officer needed a rifle.
“A rifle is rarely needed in law enforcement,” Citty said. “The main factor is what’s absolutely needed. It’s not going to sit in the trunk of that car unused and we spent a lot of money on it.”
However, recent events have changed his mind.
“I have reconsidered based on what happened in Baton Rouge,” Citty said.
“In 2007, and I can remember it vividly, when the ban on assault rifles that Bush had in place for quite a few years was lifted and was not continued by the current president, when that ban was lifted and the sale of assault rifles went back on the market. Then I had decided that we needed, officers also needed to have assault rifles because that’s what they’d be faced with, and that was in 2007,” he said.
He says about 100 officers had rifles in 2007, adding that they are not meant to be used on a routine basis.
Last year, he says he doubled that to about 211 rifles for the force. Several weeks ago, Citty decided to add another 85 rifles to the field.
However, that still meant that about 200 officers didn’t have rifles.
Citty says he wants to have control over those high-powered weapons, so the city will be purchasing rifles for the remaining officers in the field.
Until those guns arrive, officers will be able to carry their personal rifles, if the weapon is approved and they qualify.
“With the recent shootings in Dallas and then with Baton Rouge, it’s like you can’t not give all officers who want to carry a rifle under the circumstances right now because the threats are real. I have made the decision that any officer in the field that wants to carry a rifle, we want to make sure they can carry those rifles,” Citty said.
The Fraternal Order of Police met with the media on Monday, celebrating the chief’s decision.
“We’re grateful to Chief Citty, and other city leaders who have reevaluated the need for better protection,” explained FOP President, John George. “We’re ready to see this change implemented as quickly as possible.”