Police chief asks for more fire power after officers shot at

Published 9:34 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

After three recent incidents where Selma police officers were shot at with “military grade” weapons, police chief Spencer Collier is hoping to better arm his officers.

During a public safety committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, Collier explained to committee members why officers need more fire power to fight back in case it is ever needed.

“Two weeks ago the incident kind of highlighted my biggest concern,” Collier told the committee, which is chaired by Councilman Michael Johnson. “To put it as simple as possible, we are outgunned out on the streets.”

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The incident Collier was referring to was when multiple suspects opened fire on an officer on Eisenhower Street two weeks ago. The officer was tailing a car that was suspected of being involved in a shooting in the county, and when he attempted to pull them over, multiple suspects opened fired with high powered rifles.

“What is unique to Selma is the prevalence of long guns, carbines and high-powered rifles,” Collier said. “That’s military grade weapons. It’s a disproportionate amount for a city this size.”

Investigators recovered an SKS rifle, an AK-47 and a 100-round drum. Five out of six suspects have been arrested from the incident. Collier said officers are armed with Glock .40 caliber pistols, but they need enough fire power to fight back in case they get into a similar situation as the officers that were shot at.

“I don’t pretend to know the cause of it, but I do know we are severely outgunned,” Collier said. “If you look at social media, which we do monitor, the caliber of weapons that we’re seeing, we don’t have the ability to combat that. If we got in a massive shootout, we would be in trouble.”

Johnson said the committee and council will do whatever it can to provide the equipment officers need.

“Whatever the officer needs, we’ll definitely try to make sure they get it,” Johnson said. “We have to make it work.”

Collier said he is in the process of getting prices for about 40 rifles for officers to be armed with. Collier said the rifles won’t just be handed out. Officers must go through a training course to be familiarized with the weapon.

“Of course, these won’t be the primary weapon an officer will carry, but it will be readily available if he gets in that type of shootout where he can return fire and at least have a fighting chance,” Collier told the committee.

Collier also updated the committee on hiring more officers. Collier said one new officer was hired Tuesday, and five to six more are in the process of going through testing to be hired.