Washington council OKs police rifle purchase

WASHINGTON — The city of Washington will be purchasing 10 new rifles for the Washington Police Department, with seven of them to be purchased by officers over the next two years.

The program was proposed during the Tuesday night City Council meeting.

Police Chief Jim Lester said the police department currently owns a single patrol rifle in each patrol vehicle. Each of the rifles are 12 to 16 years old.

“Much like an officer’s duty gear, computers, and department policies, newer, more refined, and modernized patrol rifle options are available and being utilized by other police departments,” Lester said in a memo.

The Patrol Rifle Purchase Program will pay for the rifles, and the officers will slowly pay the money back.

The city will purchase 10 rifles, seven to be officer-owned and three to be department-owned. The officers will pay the city back through automatic payroll deduction.

Lester said the total cost of the program is estimated at $17,879 with officers paying $14,524 over two years, resulting in a cost of the city of $3,355.

It will allow officers to purchase new patrol rifle and have them personalized to their preference, Lester said.

“For instance, a left-handed shooter will no longer be handicapped by trying to use a rifle set up for right-handed shooter,” he said.

Lester said many other departments use similar programs by providing interest free loans for the purchase of patrol rifles and accessories for city business.

The specific rifles and accessories have been selected by Sgt. Jason Chalupa, department firearms instructor and SWAT team leader, and Lt. Benjamin Altenhofen, department rifle armorer and assistant SWAT team leader.

Each rifle will have a sling fitted for the officer, a grip and light placed in a comfortable position and a scope or sight, Lester said.

Because the rifles will be owned by the officers, council member Danielle Pettit-Majewski asked where the guns will be stored.

With the new building, Lester said there is an armory to keep the weapons secure and safe from environment damage such as extreme cold or extreme warmth.

The program was approved unanimously.