SUMTER, SC (WCSC) - State troopers no longer have to purchase their own high-powered rifles to be better prepared in potential active shooter situations.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol started training its troopers on the weapons earlier this year, but what many troopers had personally purchased their own before the state of South Carolina began issuing them.
The new rifles boast more accuracy and a capacity for more ammunition.
“It’s all about the perpetrator," SCHP Commander Col. Chris Williamson says. "The perpetrators you’ve seen in these active shooters as well as these mass shooting events they are the one that have had the high powered rifles and we are no match with these guys when they have high power rifles and taking people out and we show up with shotguns.”
Williamson says the change is long overdue.
“Our troopers are out there patrolling alone. When these calls come out over the radio about active shooter situation especially at schools, sometimes the troopers are the closest ones the nearest one and they could be alone to that school,” he says. “We are serving in a world today where we can’t standby and say hey we’re waiting for a deputy or other law enforcement officer to come we have to train our people we want them to respond make sure we provide them with the most valuable weapon.”
Training started in February and each group gets four days to become familiar with their patrol rifles.
“We either have to match the threat or work with something stronger to end the threat and that’s where we are today and we definitely couldn’t do that with shotguns they are outdated most departments have moved away from shotguns and we continue to do the same and we are positive these patrol rifles will help us move on to keeping our officers safe as well as the public,” Williamson says.
Officials say 300 patrol rifles have been purchased for this year and they plan to purchase 300 more next year so every trooper and officer patrolling the highway has one.