GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department could soon have assault-style rifles in all of its patrol cars.
Currently, only the Special Response Team — GRPD’s SWAT team — has the rifles. A proposal to put them in all GRPD cruisers will go before the city commission on June 16.
Patrol cars are currently equipped with shotguns, but GRPD said having assault-style rifles in them is now necessary.
“We have to be equipped in order to effectively protect the citizens of Grand Rapids,” said GRPD Sgt. Terry Dixon.
24 Hour News 8 wanted to see what type of protection the rifles would provide, so we went to Grand Rapids gun store and range Barracks 616 to find out.
“You would want a rifle because a shotgun, the buck shot and slugs is a very soft lead. A lot of times it won’t go through a car door. If the bad guy is wearing body armor, it will bounce right off that,” Gregg Glasco, the general manager of Barracks 616, said.
SHOTGUN VS. RIFLE
24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker took a shotgun and a rifle popular with law enforcement for a test drive.
The shells used in the shotgun contain shot — small pellets that spray when fired. The marks on a target showed how far they spread when fired from a far distance.
“Because of the nature of the shotgun, he (the employee that fired the gun) had some pellets go off (the target). And that’s why the police don’t want them because they don’t know where those are going,” Glasco explained after the shotgun was fired.
The hole from bullets fired with the rifle stayed on the target.
“It’s a lot safer in an urban environment,” Glasco explained. “You don’t have stray bullets flying all around.”
The rifle shots are more accurate and the weapons have a longer range. The rifle was also faster to load — it took less than three seconds. It took about 13 seconds to reload the shotgun.
ARE THE RIFLES NECESSARY?
“What we want to do is make sure the Grand Rapids Police Department to be able to respond and do what we were called to do our role is to serve and protect,” Sgt. Dixon said.
He said officers need the same firepower that they are up against. As far as firearms go, Dixon said that if they exist, the department is finding them on the streets.
GRPD is asking for $300,000 to purchase the rifles. If the purchase is approved, it will be about a year before the rifles to be put in every cruiser.