The Daviess County Sheriff’s Department’s new Springfield Saint AR-15 rifles won’t be put into official use until sometime in the spring.
Before then, the new rifles, which were purchased with a Homeland Security grant, have to be set up and deputies will also have to qualify with them on the firing range.
“In the early spring, we are going to be doing an extended version of our regular range (training) to make certain everyone is qualified,” said Maj. Barry Smith, the department’s chief deputy. “... They won’t be issued out until we are certified and qualified with them.”
The $39,390 state Homeland Security grant was awarded last year. The funds are through the Law Enforcement Protection Program.
Deputy Jared Ramsey, a sheriff’s department detective and firearms instructor who wrote the grant, said funds come from weapons that are confiscated by law enforcement agencies and turned over to the Kentucky State Police. KSP sells the weapons that can be sold back to gun manufacturers, who resell them in turn.
“I put in for the grant in 2017,” Ramsey said. The grant makes body armor a priority but also provides funds for new service weapons, Ramsey said.
The sheriff’s office stopped carrying shotguns and switched to rifles several years ago. Deputies either purchased their own rifles or used Army surplus weapons.
“We’ve used the current (surplus) patrol rifles for the past 10 to 12 years,” Smith said. When the Springfields are distributed “everyone will be using the same rifle, the same light and the same scope,” Smith said.
“That will help in training, and if we have to pick up someone else’s weapon, it will be identical to the one” the deputy already uses, Smith said.
The grant process included a lengthy follow-up, Ramsey said.
“I had to do research on which weapon, and why we went with that,” Ramsey said. But since some deputies had purchased their own rifles, department officials were able to compare models and decide which they preferred.
“Some had already bought these rifles, so we knew what they could do,” Ramsey said. “We got to do head-to-head comparisons” on rifles, he said.
The sheriff’s office also received a grant to purchase sights, lights and straps for the rifles, and the grant included funds for training and patrol ammunition. With the new rifles, a trained deputy “could confidently hit targets out to 300 yards,” with the rifle that’s capable of reaching farther distances, Ramsey said.
“It’s a very specific tool that helps the deputy,” if needed, Ramsey said. “... We can take longer, more precision shots.”
Smith said the Army surplus rifles will be returned to the military surplus program.
“This is the first opportunity we’ve had, with the grant, to buy sheriff’s office-owned rifles,” Smith said.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse