TPD: Ready for serious situations

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

Staff Writer

July 26, 2000 10 PM

If a major incident ever occurs here, the Troy Police Department will be prepared.

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On Wednesday, several patrol officers were training on using the AR-15, which is the civilian equivalent of the M-16.

With the heat beating down, the officers spent several hours going through different senarios.

The fired the high-powered assault rifles from standing, squating and sitting positions.

When an officer has just seconds to determine if he can shoot, when he can shoot and other details, it’s important to be trained and well-armed, Lt. David Johnson said.

Making a wrong decision can "haunt them for the rest of their career."

Johnson is glad to see the department furnishing equipment needed to handle different situations.

"Our officers, today, are better armed and better equipted than they ever have been," Johnson said of his 22 years experience with the department.

He would put the Troy officers up against those in any other department.

"These men are as well trained as any other officer in the state," Johnson said.

The "good equipment and training" is a credit to Chief Anthony Everage’s leadership, he said.

Of course, Everage is quick to point out the firearms being used Wednesday are not ones for everyday use and they didn’t get her overnight. The department has been working on securing the weapons for about a year.

He said the AR-15 will be used in the event of a "heavily barricaded" suspect or individual wearing bullet-proof protection.

Everage also said the assault rifles will "only be carried by those qualified" to do so.

Some people might think the TPD doesn’t need these weapons because something like a Waco is not likely to happen here.

"We’re just trying to be sure we’ve got our officers equiped to be able to handle any situation they encounter," Everage said.

"You never know what kind of circumstance or weapons you’ll encounter."

And, in the event an officer does come into contact with a heavily armed suspect, it is the "precision" not necessarily the "fire power" that is so important.

For example, officers are forced into a situation where they have only their patrol cars for protection, the AR-15 can shoot through a bullet-proof vest, plywood, sheetrock and obiterate a concrete block.

During the training, officers shot at a car and saw just how powerful the weapon is ­ having the ability to shoot through an open car door.

"It will shoot through the wheel of a car like it’s nothing," Johnson said.

Other types of rounds would be deflected off such materials.

Charlie Spaht, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Mobile, was one of those training the Troy officers.

He was at Waco and fully understands the importance of being well-armed and trained in using high-powered weapons like the AR-15.

Much of the training, he said, is to demonstrate the "terminal ballistics" of the weapon that can "tear up to pieces" a cinder block.

"It’s such a powerful, devastating round," Spaht said. "This is for really unusual circumstances, but they have to be ready for it."

Looking at the results of the different drills, they are ready.