GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Greenville Police Department is looking to move forward on a request to purchase tactical gear for officers so they may better respond to emergency situations. With recent headlines including riots in Charlotte and a school shooting at an elementary school in South Carolina, GPD is working to better equip officers while maintaining a solid and trusting relationship with the community.
“We looked at the policies, the training, and then the equipment,” says Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman.
Greenville Police has put a lot of thought into moving forward with a request to use nearly $375,000 on active shooter response kits. The kits would include a semi-automatic rifle, tactical ballistic helmets, and vests with plate armor for each other.
“Stepping down the path of buying a lot of equipment can look like militarizing the police department to some,” says Holtzman. “I really want to take the time to explain the policies, the training, and then the equipment that we’re looking to do to make both our community safe and our police officers safe.”
Policies and training that focus on deescalating dramatic situations will help to ensure the equipment is not needed often.
“They are just tools,” Holtzman says. “You have to use them in the right order and under the right supervision with the right policies.”
In addition to the kits, GPD hopes to add a bearcat to the request. The armored vehicle would help in emergency situations where ambulances and other emergency response vehicles could not gain access to the area.
“An armored vehicle is not an offensive weapon,” says Holtzman. “It really is an armored rescue vehicle. It’s designed to go into harms way where there are actual rounds being fired and safely rescuing an individual.”
The money used for the supplies is drug seizure money which means no taxpayer dollars would be spent on the request. City council will discuss the request at its next meeting. Holtzman says these supplies will simply allow GPD to better respond to the community’s needs.
“You will not see this on a daily basis,” says Holtzman. “This isn’t a patrol rifle. This is break glass in case of emergency. This what we bring out if we’re having a really bad day in our community. This is what we are going to equip our officers with to get in and take care of the problem.”
GPD plans to host a hearing for the community so they may ask questions and see the equipment up close.