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Rifles approved for GRPD patrol vehicles

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Grand Rapids Police Department

City officials have signed off on the addition of rifles to Grand Rapids police patrol cars.

Active shooter situations and 'gun culture' were both mentioned during debate, with commissioners ultimately approving the matter 5 to 2.

Third Ward Commissioner SenitaLenear and Second Ward Commissioner Ruth Kelly voted no. 

Mayor George Heartwell and Mayor-elect Rosalynn Bliss both agreed with the decision, at a total cost of about $300,000 for rifles, ammunition and accessories such as mounts and locks.

GRPD patrol cars are currently stocked with shotguns, although the department does allocate rifles to special response teams. Officials say a rifle has much more precision, can be used with greater accuracy in a rescue or active shooter scenario and is a ‘best practice’ in departments nationwide.

Mayor Heartwell referenced today’s 'gun culture' and the 'unbelievable firepower' readily accessible in society as a reason behind his vote, calling an officer with a shotgun "equivalent to sending a boy out with a slingshot to slay a giant".

Commissioner Kelly said the appearance of 'military-grade rifles' may do more harm than good, and concern residents.

The finances were previously allocated in the GRPD budget during the city’s annual fiscal planning sessions earlier this year.

It’s expected to take at least six months for the rifles to be delivered to the department.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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