Law enforcement agencies deal with ammunition shortagesPublished 10:16pm Thursday, September 5, 2013
By Jay Sowers
The Selma Times-Journal
While the well-publicized national shortage has not impacted the day-to-day operations for local law enforcement, it has certainly made the ordering of ammunition so vital for those officials.
Sgt. Tory Neely, one of the firearms instructors with the Selma Police Department, said planning is key to keeping the department’s ammunition stock full.
“If we are going to be going to the firing range eight months from now, we need to place that order today to get it here in time,” Neely said.
Along with the delays, which he said currently average between three to six months, Neely said law enforcement organizations are also grappling with the higher prices of ammunition brought on by increased demand in recent years.
“The prices for ammo are just sky high,” Neely said.
Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman Jr. said his department is paying higher rates on every form of ammunition they buy, not just the more common rounds, which members of the general public are also attempting to purchase.
“It’s not one particular round, it’s everything,” Huffman said. “And when we order stuff we are on a waiting list like everybody else.”
Selma Chief of Police William Riley, who has been involved in law enforcement since 1984, said the apparently ever-rising cost of ammunition, and the amount of planning required to keep department stocks full, is unlike anything he has every seen.
“In my career in policing, right now has been the toughest time, as far as getting the ammunition,” Riley said. “We’ve had issues in the past, but right now has been the toughest time.”
Riley said the increase in cost and wait-time for ammunition is tied to events, both national and international.
“We always keep an eye on what’s going on in the world,” Riley said. “We look at what’s going on in America politically, then in the wars, and now in Syria.
“We look out for what could cause a shortage down the line,” Riley said.
Even with their full stocks of ammunition, and unchanged day-to-day operations, each department has been affected by the higher prices and longer waiting period for ammunition.
Neely said that the department has taken an unusual step in recent months to save money on ammunition.
“After we shoot the bullets at the firing range, we pick up the cases and send them back to the manufacturer,” Neely said. “We get some money for those casings, which is put back into the department’s ammunition fund.”
Huffman said the long period between the ordering of ammunition and its delivery has taken one firearm out of the hands of deputies before they got to use it.
“We have some M-16s we got through a federal government program last year, and we haven’t issued them because we are having difficulties getting that .223 ammunition,” Huffman said.
Huffman said the department recently received a shipment of .223 ammunition, which will allow officers to begin training on the weapon shortly.
While all said the day-to-day operations of their organizations have not been altered, Riley said the department will continue to plan ahead and order their ammunition long before it is needed, so as not to impact the training of all the department’s officers.
“You always pray to God you never have to use your weapon,” Riley said. “There is no substitute for proper training, because once a bullet is fired you can’t pull it back.”