Without one weapon troopers want to carry on patrol, the AR-15 rifle, some say they can be ‘out-gunned’ or even ‘combat ineffective.’
“To, to not have this equipment…it’s ludicrous,” Highway Patrol Sgt. David Whatley said.
The Highway Patrol wants the state to pay for each trooper to carry a rifle to respond long-range to any mass shooting scenario, at the price of $500,000.
Some lawmakers, like Rep. Todd Rutherford (D- Richland) are supportive.
“If we can’t fund it, we need to have a bake sale to do it. This is something that we absolutely need to do,” Rutherford said.
The Civil Emergency Response Team (CERT) already carried the rifles, and so do about 50 troopers, who carry their own personal rifle. Those troopers pay out of pocket for that firearm and ammunition.
Holding his personal rifle, David Whatley said he’s taken his personal safety in his hands. He bought the AR-15 to carry on patrol and paid for the ammo to re-certify through training each year.
“Every round that goes down range that’s- was money out of my pocket,” Whatley said.
Whatley has been frustrated with leadership at the Highway Patrol so much, he’s resigned, effective in just a few months. However, he supports the department’s funding request to get troopers rifles on the job.
He said that addresses a safety issue.
“It seems like you have to jump over all these hurdles just to protect yourself or protect the public, that it’s just, it’s just…I don’t know if the right word is asinine if I’m allowed to say that or not but, it really is it’s crazy,” Whatley said.
He fears the state-issued pistol and shotgun troopers now carry, won’t do the job in mass shooting scenarios where the bad guy has a better, long-range weapon. Former trooper trainer, Billy Warren, thinks so, too.
“You’re outgunned. You’re in a bad situation, yes. And the problem is, you don’t know from day to day when you leave the house when this is going to happen. So are we willing to wait to buy the rifles after a bad scenario and say we should’ve?” Warren questions.
Whatley offers another idea to lawmakers, to pay for ammunition for those who pay out of pocket if the General Assembly doesn’t fund rifles for all.
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