Saluda purchases new weapons for police department

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Funds derived from a local drug bust have saved Saluda residents almost $2,000 and are being used toward the purchase of rifles for the Saluda Police Department.

At their Jan. 14 meeting, Saluda City Council members voted unanimously to use $1,950 from a combination drug bust two years ago toward the purchase of three Colt AR-15 semi-automatic .223 Remington caliber patrol rifles.

These rifles will be carried in the department’s patrol cars, said Saluda Police Chief James L. Cantrell. They are the same make, model and caliber as those rifles used by the Columbus and Tryon police departments, and by the county. The new rifles, which are on order, will provide uniformity with respect to model and caliber.

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Cantrell said that the weapons would replace shotguns now carried by officers on patrol.

“Most departments are going away from shotguns,” Cantrell said, and are opting to carry rifles.  The longer-range capabilities of these rifles over shotguns is a big reason, he added.

These rifles, capable of practical accuracy to at least 200 yards, can be safer for bystanders in shootouts, and can also help officers match the firepower of criminals. Cantrell did not know when his department would receive the weapons.

According to Saluda City Administrator Erny Williams, city auditors explained the the drug bust funds, of which Saluda’s share was $1,950, can only be spent on certain kinds of items, and that the funds should not be carried from year to year.

Councilman Johnnie Kinard, who is in charge of the city’s public safety, made a motion to spend the city’s share on the rifles.