The Constable of Harris County Precinct 4 is beefing up firepower on the north side.
Constable Mark Herman bought 40 AR-15 high-powered rifles, he says not only to protect his 500 deputies, but also the 1.3 million people they protect.
Constable Herman says this is not about scoring publicity, chest-thumping or militarizing the police.
Instead, Herman says he’s just trying to give his deputies the weapons they need to fight criminals that have gotten bolder and better armed.
Trips to the gun range are nothing new for Precinct 4 Constable deputies, but in the last week, they’ve gotten their hands on some new stopping power…
Their boss hopes will make its mark on stopping crime.
“I can tell you, they’re fighting us every day, physically,” Herman said.
Herman says he’s seeing more police officers around the country getting ambushed at long distances, like in Dallas last summer.
“I can tell you that a pistol will only shoot so far. A rifle shoots a lot farther,” Herman said.
Herman hopes buying these AR-15s means stopping a mass shooting, like what we saw in Dallas or a school massacre like Sandy Hook, at a time when he says criminals are running from police, even running into a school, like at Dekaney High School after a robbery at a Precinct 4-area GameStop in May.
“They need to do what they need to do to keep us safe,” one resident said.
“I think (it’s OK) as long as they take the safety classes that they need to and they know exactly when they need to use it,” said Lindsay Carter, another resident.
Herman says even before weapons trained started, his deputies were trained in policies and procedures for the AR-15s developed with the county attorney.
He says all 40 officers were certified on the weapons.
“We bought mounting devices for the patrol car that only officers will have access to. These weapons will not be left in the vehicles when the deputies aren’t working. We have secure facilities for the weapons when they’re not in use,” Bennett said.
It’s a new system in place to stop a potential tragedy dead in its tracks.
The Constable paid for those rifles with $40,000 they saved last year and eventually he wants to have one in all of his nearly 300 patrol cars.
In the meantime, he says they’re working on buying body cameras and will be opening up a new substation near I-45 and Cypresswood in three months.