ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Police Department will soon have 800 new rifles to replace the 500 AR-15 style rifles currently carried by uniformed officers.
Last month, the Orlando City Council approved the purchase of 800 new Sig Sauer rifles for the police department.
"Sometimes people basically arm themselves with weapons that are more powerful than a regular handgun," Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said.
On Monday, the city council approved funding for training needed for the new firearms and the purchase of optics equipment necessary for the new weapons.
"It’s really a huge upgrade to what we have now, and it improves the accuracy when you fire the weapon tremendously," Rolon said.
The upgraded weapons, including optics and lights, will cost an estimated $1.34 million, according to OPD spokesman Eduardo Bernal.
The new Sig Sauer guns will replace approximately 500 Bushmaster rifles currently used by uniformed officers. About 300 of the new rifles will go to nonuniformed officers, including detectives, watch commanders and sergeants. Each rifle will be custom to the officer.
Bernal said the intent behind purchasing the new rifles is twofold.
Bernal said the new firearms will allow managers and detectives to have a "more efficient and expeditious response" to calls when they are out of the office. He also feels confident the rifles will help the department keep the community safe.
"We always look to better our capabilities and upgrade when appropriate," Bernal said. "We strive to provide our residents and visitors with a safe environment, and one way we do that is by providing our officers with equipment that will help them succeed."
The department is aiming to deploy the new firearms in February. Each officer will go through a two-day training before acquiring a new weapon.
Orlando police officials said the plan to equip more officers with rifles has been in the works since before the Pulse nightclub shooting.