New rifles, vehicles for sheriff’s office

Published 2:02 am Monday, July 25, 2016

Deputies in Beaufort County will soon be receiving new rifles.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s has negotiated with Smith and Wesson for 60 AR-15-style platform rifles, trading in 40 of the old rifles at $300 per rifle, for a total of $15,000 to be applied to the $42,000 cost.

During the July meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, Chief Deputy Charlie Rose informed commissioners of the purchase. Before approving the purchase, commissioners took the opportunity to not only ask why the sheriff’s office needed new rifles, but whether the sheriff’s office was prepared to deal with active shooters, in light of the recent shootings in the U.S.

Rose said some of the rifles are more than 15 years old and have fired thousands of rounds, which has caused some barrels to warp and led to some case of catastrophic failure.

“Weapons systems, just like anything else, are manmade and fallible and will fail,” Rose said. “If we’re going to have a rifle that only fires one time, we might as well be carrying muskets.”

He said deputies use handguns as their primary weapons, but need the flexibility to have a long-range firearm.

“We need two different ranges. We live in rural community. In most situations, we need the range provided by rifle,” Rose said.

As for whether the department is prepared for an active shooter, Rose was pragmatic.

“How ready are we for something like what happened in Dallas? Are we prepared for that? We do more training that most agencies in the state, but … no, we are not prepared, but we are as prepared as the level of personnel can be, as the level of training can be,” Rose said.

He said a dozen deputies within the department will be specifically training to address those types of situations.

Commissioners also had questions about sheriff’s office vehicles, including the purchase of new ones.

“Why did y’all take Beaufort County out of plain view on those cars?” Board Chairman Jerry Langley asked, referring to the new decals on the sides of the sheriff’s office vehicles.
“It was in the stripe, the stripe was taken out. We tried a couple of different mockups and none of them looked good,” Rose said. “Trust me, if one of our deputies is driving 5 mph over the speed limit in Wilson, I get an email.”

Commissioner Hood Richardson had an issue with the number of unmarked vehicles in the fleet.

“Thirty-five cars is too many unmarked cars,” Richardson said. “Half the department’s vehicles do not need to be secretive.”

Richardson said the presence of marked law enforcement vehicles out on the roads is the way crime is deterred, to which Rose disagreed.

“Deterrence is when somebody commits a crime and before people forget about it, that person is sitting in jail,” Rose said.

Commissioners approved the purchases of rifles and vehicles, both of which had been included in the sheriff’s office budget.