Metro police officers now have more fire power at their disposal in cases that warrant maximum response.
In light of children being massacred in Newtown, Connecticut, and movie watchers being killed in Aurora, Colorado, Metro police has authorized officers to add a powerful peace keeper to their crime fighting tool kit.
Officer Burl Johnson is a hostage negotiator and a member of the Metro police fatal crash team.
“We want to be able to meet a threat or stop a threat before the citizens or visitors to our city are hurt or killed,” he explained.
Johnson has a departmental-issue shotgun and .40 caliber glock, semi-automatic pistol.
Like a third of the Metro police force, he also carries a rifle like an AR 15 now.
“They don't want the weapon brought out unless it is an active killer type situation, where we can utilize the weapon system to meet a threat, confront a threat or end it,” Johnson said.
The Metro police have authorized officers to carry patrol rifles only under certain conditions.
First, the officer pays for the weapon out of his or her own pocket.
Second, the rifle is inspected by the department for uniformity.
Third, each officer undergoes a three-day course on handling the rifle.
And fourth, the gun is not to be used on routine police calls.
“This weapon system is to be deployed only in active situations where there is an active killer situation such as a school, a movie theater, a mall or work place violence,” Johnson explained further.
Patrol rifles sell for $800 to $1,200, depending on the accessories.
Given that expense, there is no current plan for a city-funded mass purchase of patrol rifles.
Following a bank robbery shoot out more than 10 years ago, Brentwood police now equip all their officers with AR 15 type rifles.
Hendersonville police is also developing a strategy like Metro Nashville.