State troopers seek funding for rifles to better outfit force

FLORENCE, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina troopers say they could be "out-gunned" and "combat ineffective" without one weapon they want: a rifle, like the AR-15.

That's the tool the Highway Patrol has asked the state to equip each trooper with at a total cost of half-a-million-dollars.

Troopers say they have serious concerns about their safety.

One state trooper in Florence feels so strongly about protecting himself and his team while on the job, he paid out of his own pocket to buy a rifle and ammunition to carry with him while he is on duty.

Sgt. David Whatley said he is so frustrated with issues in department leadership, he already submitted his letter of resignation in November, and has just a few months left on the job.

He says the request for rifles addresses a safety problem.  He has his own AR model rifle he carries on patrol.  He says it cost him a little over a $1,000.  Plus, he has to pay for the ammunition it takes to go through re-certification training to use the weapon each year.

And that's what he says isn't fair.

He says younger troopers cannot afford that expense. He argues the need for the rifles is urgent, because bad guys use them in mass shooting scenarios, and troopers don't stand a chance with the pistol or shotgun issued by the state.

"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.

The Highway Patrol says there are about 50 troopers who use their own personal rifle on the job. Their Civil Emergency Response Team does, too.

One state representative, Todd Rutherford from Richland County said if the funding request for rifles is not granted, the state should have a bake sale to buy them.

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