A new policy at the Metro Nashville Police Department will allow roughly 460 trained officers to carry personally owned rifles — including those of the AR-15 variety — in their polices vehicles while on duty.
Chief Steve Anderson cited recent shootings such as in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., involving high-powered weapons as justification for allowing officers to carry similar weapons.
Accord to police spokesman Don Aaron’s office, currently about one third of Nashville’s 1,373 sworn officers personally own such rifles.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Anderson said, “It has become increasingly clear that a pistol and shotgun may not be enough for an officer to stop a threat to innocent citizens. This policy change is in the best interest of public and officer safety.”
The policy would apparently only allow officers who receive proper training and approval to carry rifles in their department vehicles while on duty, and the rifles are only to be used “when it is clear that a tactical advantage over a criminal suspect is warranted. The rifles are not to be used for routine calls,” according to the department.
Rifles had previously been limited to officers on specialized assignments, such as SWAT and canine officers.
Prior to approval for use, each rifle is to be inspected for uniformity, and each officer must complete a three-day training course and then be approved by MNPD training staff. The rifles are not to be modified after they are approved and are to be subject to inspection at any time, according to the department.
Initially, 20 officers from various department components who own authorized rifles are to undergo the first training course later this month.