Rural parole officers not getting AR15 rifles

A panel of state lawmakers situated in Carson City went ahead this Wednesday and sternly rejected a request given by the state Division of Parole and Probation. This request was to purchase powerful and efficient AR15 rifles for the agency’s current 32 rural officers.

Mr John O’Rourke, the current deputy chief of the agency, recently asked the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee to accept the proposed request for an astonishing $75,000 from an asset forfeiture fund to purchase the AR15 rifles, scopes, necessary and associated equipment.

Mr O’Rourke highlighted that officers in current surrounding rural areas of the state are only equipped with handguns and a small percentage have access to shotguns. However the rifles would give them significant and greater cover if ever needed. The rifles allow for a greater range of approximately 300 yards, said Mr O’Rourke.

Unfortunately however the request ran into significant resistance from a handful of members from the panel; in which they took no apparent action on the item or request.

The Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, in D-North Las Vegas, announced that she felt quite concerned with the request due to a number of unresolved questions regarding law enforcement agency responsibility in a majority of emergency situations, especially in light of the stzte’s current and known budget problems.

“I believe the state should stay within their own swimming lanes on what we do about this,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “I feel that we have to be extremely careful in placing ourselves where there is already some authority to provide some of those things.”

“The lawmakers still need to look into the roles within the various state and local law enforcement departments and agencies within the next session before approving such a request,” Kirkpatrick carried on to mention.

Mr John O’Rourke highlighted that he agreed that law enforcement agencies have definitive responsibilities. But when officers are called on for support, they will respond, he said.

Mr O’Rourke continued by mentioning that he would like to purchase the AR15 rifles for all sworn officers, but unfortunately there currently is not adequate funding to do this.

Mr O’Rourke highlighted once again that within local rural areas, officers are often out miles and miles away from any type of other resource, and when they require assistance it will take a significant amount of time for assistance to arrive,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said that the Nevada Highway Patrol officers are currently equipped with the same rifle being initially requested by Parole and Probation.

The current division’s officers, who are categorized as Category 1 POST-certified peace officers, are primarily involved in supervising offenders who are discharged from prison or who are also on house arrest or are perhaps participating in programs such as drug court.

However Mr John O’Rourke highlighted that the officers who respond to law enforcement emergencies and also requests for assistance; including the unfortunate yet deadly Sparks Middle School shooting last year.

Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, a chairwoman of the committee, mentioned that the request was more than just a simple equipment purchase. The request can be placed as part of a policy discussion for lawmakers within the next 2015 session.