ST CLAIR TWP. - Officers with the St. Clair police Department will be better equipped to protect the public from criminals who, in many cases, are becoming more and more well-armed all the time. Police Chief Donald Hyatt told trustees at their Tuesday meeting that his department has purchased several new Sig Sauer .223 caliber semi automatic patrol rifles. The rifle is similar in configuration and appearance to the well known AR-15.
Hyatt reported that officers will be carrying the rifles in their cruisers while on patrol, adding that several cruisers had previously been outfitted with the rifles, however, he wanted all of his officers to have the same fire power available to them. " I wanted to get to the point where all the units have the same weapons in them," said Hyatt, adding, "So all the cars now will have the military grade 12-gauge shotgun and the Sig Sauer .223."
According to Hyatt all that is left to do now is get the new rifles properly sighted in by taking them to the shooting range and "zeroing them in." He explained this process is done to insure the rifles are accurate after coming from the factory. All officers with the St. Clair Police Department are certified by the state to use the .223 rifle as well as the 12-gauge shotgun, according to Hyatt.
When asked how he thinks the new rifle can benefit his department Hyatt explained that criminals everywhere seem to be more well armed than ever and his department is just "keeping pace." "You just never know what you're going to run into these days and you have to be able to respond appropriately," said Hyatt. He cited well publicized incidents like the infamous 1997 North Hollywood Bank shootout where officers with the LAPD had to go to local gun stores to find weapons that could match the firepower of two assault rifle wielding bank robbers. "If you can't equal the force you're being threatened with you're not going to be able to help anybody," said Hyatt.
As for funding for the purchase of the rifles Hyatt explained that ceased narcotics money footed the bill. "These rifles were paid for thanks to local drug dealers."
Hyatt explained that his department often buys equipment with ceased drug revenue. "We're going to fight the war on drugs, and we're going to fight it with their money."