Nassau County police are getting more firepower and training to protect citizens in active-shooter and terror situations after the shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, officials said Thursday.
Training for about 200 officers will begin Friday with 150 new semi-automatic Sig Sauer M400 SWAT rifles. The weapons have a longer range, are more accurate and allow police to match the firepower of shooters wielding assault weapons, authorities said.
The SWAT rifles, which cost $1,100 apiece, arrived Monday in a shipment that officials expedited after the recent terror attacks in Paris, acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
“This today is us taking another step forward to ensure that our cops are properly equipped and properly trained to deal with any situation they face,” Krumpter said Thursday afternoon before officers demonstrated the weapons at the department’s gun range in Hempstead.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who attended, said shooters like the couple who stormed the San Bernardino social services facility and killed 14 people, are “not there to take hostages and negotiate for something.”
“They’re there to murder citizens,” he said. “So this response and terminating those active shooters as quickly as possible clearly will save lives.”
A committee began researching the SWAT rifle purchase about 11 months ago after the department’s active-shooter training revealed it was necessary to have weapons with those capabilities, Krumpter said.
The rifles had been scheduled to arrive next year, but the department expedited the delivery after the Paris shootings, he said. Each holds a 30-round magazine and has an effective range of 600 meters, police said.
A group of 32 Nassau officers will be the first to receive the three-day training, which will continue for about four months, enhancing the active-shooter training the department has done for past five years.
More than 100 patrol officers and officers in special units will receive the weapons. Officers will carry them in squad cars, along with recently issued heavy body armor and tactical helmets, police said.
Suffolk County police will enhance their active-shooter training, which the department started shortly after the 1999 Columbine shooting that left 13 dead, said Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.
The training includes teaching and empowering patrol officers to respond effectively at shooting scenes. Officers learn how to initially assist in mass casualty situations and work with detectives to track down and learn key information about active shooters.
“Our preparedness has been comprehensive, but it’s ongoing. You can never say you’re prepared and stop your preparedness efforts,” Cameron said.
Cameron said the department’s unofficial motto is: “If it can happen there, it can happen here, and we need to be prepared for it.”