OKLAHOMA CITY - The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU) is speaking out against Oklahoma City Police Chief’s decision allowing officers to carry personal rifles, saying it is likely to increase tension between the public and law enforcement.

On Monday, Oklahoma City Chief of Police Bill Citty approved the use of personal rifles by members of the Oklahoma City Police Department in addition to their standard arsenal of lethal and non-lethal weapons. 

Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU, said in a news release that increasing the armament of Oklahoma City police officers to allow carrying personal rifles on neighborhood beats will increase the tension between the public and law enforcement.

“In the absence of a clear departmental policy, this change could lead to the use of assault-type weapons, such as the AR-15. We’re concerned by Chief Citty’s action, framed against a horrific summer of violence and shootings of both civilians and police officers. This new policy could add to the disturbing militarization of our police force,” said Kiesel. “We understand and appreciate that police officers are concerned for their safety, but putting more guns on the streets is not the answer. Civilian residents of Oklahoma City -- particularly its minority communities -- are just as concerned for their safety. This policy is likely to widen the growing gulf of fear and distrust between police and many communities.”

Kiesel added that they urge Chief Citty and others to take a step back from this decision and consider its implications. The ACLU is now calling on the Oklahoma City Police Department to release its policies regarding the use of weapons, especially personal weapons.

In the news release, the organization stated police officials have said, many times, they want to operate in an open and transparent environment. It’s time for them to make good on those statements.