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Dallas Cops Can Buy AR-15 Rifles; Recent Shootout Left Police Outgunned

By Tanya Eiserer, The Dallas Morning News

On the heels of a recent shootout that left Richardson and Plano police outgunned, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has announced that police officers will be allowed to purchase their own AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.

The department has previously said that it was working on purchasing 65 AR-15 rifles for patrol officers for about $100,000. Because the rifles won''t become available until about April, the chief wrote in a Monday memo, the department will implement a policy to allow officers to purchase them "in an effort to enhance officer safety and get these rifles on the street as quickly as possible."

The weapons must be of a model approved by the department, and officers must attend a 40-hour training course, the memo said.

Senior Cpl. Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, which represents about 80 percent of Dallas officers, said he would estimate that 90 to 100 officers already own the rifles.

"It''s a good thing," he said of the policy. "I think it''s saying that Kunkle cares about the department and that he''s looking at innovative ways to get things done."

Last month, Richardson and Plano police faced a barrage of automatic assault rifle fire as they chased robbers thought to be the Takeover Bandits. No one was seriously injured, and the suspects escaped. But the incident highlighted the need for local police departments to beef up their arsenals.

Plano and Richardson have previously announced that they were adding more AR-15 semiautomatic rifles to their arsenals. Plano will also allow officers to buy the rifles and keep them in their squad cars.

In his memo, Chief Kunkle also wrote that the department was considering buying prisoner cages as part of efforts to improve officer safety.

In May, a veteran Dallas officer was giving a man a lift when the man crawled in the front seat and began choking the officer and trying to grab his handgun. No one was seriously injured, but it raised the issue that Dallas patrol cars do not have cages separating the front and the back seats.

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