Clanton Police adds to its arsenal

Published 8:49 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Clanton Police Department now has new high-powered rifles for its officers thanks to a grant from Sen. Hank Erwin.

The $27,770 grant, which was obtained by former Clanton Police Chief James Henderson, allowed the department to purchase 27 .223 caliber M4 rifles from Rock River Arms along with ammunition. This will allow each of the department’s officers to have a rifle.

“I would like to thank Chief Henderson for obtaining this grant,” said Police Chief Brian Stilwell. “Some agencies turned down this money. I’m glad he didn’t do that.”

Sen. Hank Erwin said he went to police chiefs and sheriffs throughout his district to see what they needed most, and they responded by asking for high-powered rifles. Erwin also remembered the incident when the Los Angeles Police Department had to buy high-powered rifles from gun shops just to match their suspects’ firepower.

“I never want our officers to be under-matched,” Erwin said. “Our police departments need to be on the cutting edge of technology.”

Stilwell wants his officers to be prepared in case there ever is an incident where they would need them.

“We just got an AK-47 off the streets,” Stilwell said. “We just want to have something that could match that kind of firepower.”

Stilwell said the department wouldn’t be able to purchase these guns without this grant. Incidents in which the department could use these rifles include school shootings or incidents where a suspect is using a rifle that could shoot an officer from several hundred feet away.

“In cases like this, we would have to go out and buy a rifle to match them or go home and get a deer rifle if we didn’t have them available to the officers,” Stilwell said. “Now, the officers will have them available. I just hope we never have to use them.”

The officers participated in a training session for the rifles yesterday at the police department. They will also train on the new weapons at the county shooting range when they qualify for their firearm certification in May.