Most Nassau County, NY, patrol officers lack the precision rifles designed to quickly take down a gunman during a mass shooting attack despite a vow from department brass that the high-powered long guns would be distributed to street cops, reports Newsday.

Patrol officers in Nassau, like uniformed police officers across the country, are often the first to respond to shootings and would be tasked with charging into a school or other building to immobilize an active shooter.

Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says such military-style weapons should not be distributed widely across patrol ranks, citing security and oversight concerns. But James McDermott, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, argues that street cops—armed with department-issued .40-caliber handguns—are at a distinct disadvantage against a gunman wielding a semiautomatic rifle.

McDermott, in an interview Tuesday ahead of the opening of hundreds of Nassau County schools this week, said all the department’s patrol officers should be trained to use the rifles and there should be one long gun assigned to each patrol car.

Ryder said his predecessor's pledge four years ago to give out the long guns was "not a well-thought-out plan." He said doing so would require ongoing highly specialized training for every officer, making it impractical. The use and maintenance of such high-level tactical weapons must be tightly controlled, he said.

Ninety-six of the 150 previously purchased rifles remain in storage, Ryder said. But he said he has a plan to deploy 50 to 60 of them, training the department's new complement of 24 problem-oriented police officers, or POP cops, to use the rifles, as well as members of Homeland Security.


Related: An Argument for Equipping More Police Officers with Patrol Rifles

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