By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Law enforcement is upgrading to a new more modern rifle.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department SWAT team will get new weapons, thanks to donations from area businesses and individuals. Sheriff Billy Sollie said Monday that donations had totaled approximately $20,000, so there will be no cost to the taxpayers to purchase 14 new LWRC 6.8 millimeter rifles and accessories.
These will replace the unit's .223 Bushmaster M4 rifles.
"The training that goes on monthly with our SWAT team, the number of rounds that have been discharged by each of our weapons, it was time to trade those in and upgrade to a different caliber," Sollie said.
Sollie received two quotes for prices on the equipment: one from the manufacturer, LWRC and one from Modern Outfitters in Meridian.
The low quote came in from Modern Outfitters, who also agreed to buy the old rifles from the Sheriff's Department.
"They can't resell the rifles, but they can take some of the parts off of them," said Ward Calhoun, chief deputy.
With the company's offer to buy the old rifles, the cost of the new rifles and accessories will be $15,927.20. The donated funds will more than cover that cost, Sollie said.
"We started to ask for assistance about three weeks ago. We had several business people in the Lauderdale County area as well as individuals who stepped forward and started writing business checks, personal checks. We raised in excess of the total cost of the weapons."
Members of the SWAT team also have other duties and they will carry their weapons with them on patrol, according to Calhoun. He explained that the new 6.8 mm rifles have a better stopping power than the .223 models. He said law officers don't necessarily shoot to kill, but they do shoot to eliminate threats.
Sollie said Lauderdale County will be among the first in the nation to have these weapons that were previously sold to the federal government and international military forces.
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to declare the old rifles as surplus and to approve the purchase of the new guns.