Oklahoma City's police chief has changed his mind and is siding with the police union's request to put more rifles in the hands of officers on the streets.
He said recent events in Baton Rouge caused him to reconsider his initial decision not to purchase the additional weapons.
Chief Bill Citty's reconsideration means any Oklahoma City police officer who works in the field now has the option to carry a rifle.
A decision he made to ensure all officers on the street feel protected.
The deaths of eight police officers, killed in targeted attacks in the past 10 days led to Citty's change of heart on the number of rifles in the field.
“With the recent shootings in Dallas and then Baton Rouge, it's like you can't not give all officers who want to carry a rifle a rifle under the circumstances right now, because the threats are real,” Citty said.
In the days following the ambush on Dallas police officers, Oklahoma City's Fraternal Order of Police requested more rifles plus better body armor and shields out in the field for officers. It was a request initially denied by Citty.
“We're just grateful that he had a change of heart and now is going to do what we though was right all along,” said Oklahoma City's FOP president John George.
Currently, there's about 300 city-purchased rifles issued to officers who patrol the streets. The police chief's decision will now allow all 520 officers to carry a rifle.
“I want the officers to feel better. I want them to feel safer,” said Citty.
Until the new weapons arrive, officers who are trained to use a rifle will be allowed to carry their own, but it must be approved by the department.
“I think right now, with what's going on around the nation, a lot of officers are concerned and hopefully this will help,” said George.
Citty made it clear the rifles will only be used during high impact situation, and not during events like routine traffic stops.