By Lowell Brown
Waco Tribune-Herald via Associated Press
McLennan County commissioners voted without discussion Tuesday to approve the purchase of 19 military-style rifles for the sheriff’s office, a week after Sheriff Parnell McNamara requested the weapons.
McNamara, who took office in January, described the purchase as a step toward arming his 40 patrol deputies with AR-15-style, M4 Patrolman’s Carbine rifles.
Deputies already carry handguns and shotguns, but McNamara said the rifles would help them more safely confront heavily armed suspects. The rifles hold more bullets and are better suited for longer ranges.
Some deputies already carry the rifles, bought with their own money. The new weapons will go to deputies who don’t already own one, McNamara said.
Commissioners agreed to let McNamara cover the $19,146 cost using his office’s own budgeted funds, including $18,500 received from an insurance claim after a driver ran into a department vehicle.
During a report to commissioners last week, McNamara said deputies faced a “very grave” threat from heavily armed suspects. He cited a February incident near the McLennan-Bosque county line where deputies arrested a suspect armed with a handgun, a sawed-off shotgun and an AR-15-style weapon.