All 28 of officers soon will be equipped with patrol rifles.
The township’s Board of Supervisors last week approved the purchase of 21 Rock River LE 1040 rifles for officers at a total cost of $15,645—or $770 per rifle.
The department already has seven patrol rifles, which are close to a decade old, according to Jeff Schueler, Cranberry’s director of public safety. Those long guns are not shared because each officer has a different aiming point sighting adjusted for a particular weapon.
“The elevation is different for each officer,” Schueler said. “It’s not feasible to be passing rifles like that.”
The new rifles—which Schueler described as light and easy to carry—will be custom-fitted to the officers assigned to them.
After exploring rifle options for several years, Schueler said the weapons were included in the department’s budget for 2012. Officials hurried to approve the purchase Thursday because prices for the rifles were scheduled to increase April 1.
“We felt it was time to have another tool for all the officers,” Schueler said.
The safety director said it’s important for police to have the rifles because they are the first to arrive on the scene for any major emergency—including situations with potential for an active shooter or hostages. He added it could take as long as an hour for the tactical response team from state police, which has barracks in Butler, to arrive in Cranberry.
“The old philosophy was you contained the area and you waited for the SWAT team or the special units to come in,” he said. “Now, the first officers there are trained to go in and take care of situations.”
Township manager Jerry Andree noted University of Pittsburgh police used rifles, which the officers had been trained to use, to take down John Shick during his shooting rampage last month at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland.
Should a situation of that nature arise in Cranberry, police will be similarly equipped to take action.
“Our officers need to be totally prepared to be the first line of defense for the community,” Andree said. “It’s critical to have the police equipped to save lives.”
Schueler said the department would receive in-house training on the firearms. A majority of the officers already are qualified to use rifles, he said.
The rifles are expected to arrive at the station in May, he said.