OMAHA, Neb. —
Some Omaha police officers are making a financial sacrifice to make sure they have high-powered weapons for use on the job.
AR-15 rifles are standard for the Omaha Police Department’s Emergency Response Unit, but rank-and-file officers still have the option of buying their own. The option is becoming increasingly popular, officials with the police department said.
Many of the police said they’re glad to have the weapons in case they need them.
“It’s something you almost can’t do without,” said Officer Steve Kult.
The AR-15 is a civilianized version of a gun commonly used in the military and a standard of police SWAT teams nationwide. Rank-and-file officers in Omaha get special training on it.
“We require officers to go through a four-day certification course before they can carry the AR-15,” said Lt. Scott Gray.
After a day in the classroom, Gray and SWAT team members lead 24 trainees through everything from positioning tactics to 100-yard marksmanship.
“The dynamics change with the long gun,” Gray said. “Obviously, the rifle has a lot more power than a handgun.”
Officers said that additional power is increasingly important amid the changing threats they face on duty.
“We have incidents like that L.A. bank shootout, Columbine and Von Maur,” Kult said.
The guns aren’t just expensive, police said. The ammunition costs $450 for 1,000 rounds. The Omaha Police Department collects the shell casings left behind at the firing range and recycle the brass.