Posted: Jan 30, 2013 3:58 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Jan 30, 2013 5:55 PM
BATON ROUGE- The Baton Rouge Police Department received 100 military surplus rifles as part of a federal program to combat criminals who "outgun" law enforcement.
Currently around 150 officers have the high-powered rifles. The officers who will receive some of the 100 new rifles got the opportunity today to shoot them and learn about the weapons. It's an effort to keep citizens and the men and women who protect and serve safe.
"It became very apparent of how important it was in 1997 with the North Hollywood shootout where officers were outgunned in the country," said Sgt. Joel Pattison, the commander of the firing range.
The guns were converted from automatic to semi-automatic, and only cost the city $50 each. Officers will receive them based on their proficiency with their current weapons.
"Our officers are selected by their supervisors," Pattison said. "They have to want it to begin with. It's a voluntary basis and they have to show interest, be proficient with the firearm they carry everyday."
People we spoke to on the streets of Baton Rouge approved of the program.
"They ought to get bigger guns," Willie Cockran said. "All these youngsteres running around here with bigger guns... AK-47's and all that. Police not riding with them."
Cockran has lived in Baton Rouge for most of his life. He believes the program will help keep his family safe.
"They sure need them," Cockran said. "That's for sure."