Thomas County Sheriff's Deputies Get Powerful New Weapons

For officers of the law, sometimes drawing a handgun while on duty is not enough.

CAPT John Richards of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office says, "If you think back about a few years at the bank robbery in LA where the two guys were walking down the street just shooting everybody and the police at that time couldn't handle, weren't able to deal with the situation because they didn't have the proper weapons."

Richards says that can happen here, and now Thomas County sheriff’s deputies will carry M-16 A1 rifles to be ready.

Richards adds, "You have an option with them of shooting semi-automatic, one shot or you can flip the level on and be fully automatic."

The training for the high powered weapons is very meticulous.

DEP Willie Osborn with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office, "It's got a lot to do with paying attention to detail fundamentals of positioning how you hold it, set a weapon, how you set your sight."

So much as breathing too heavily while aiming can result in a missed target, or maybe worse.

LT Tim Watkins of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office says, "In case they have to use them in an actual situation they'll be able to engage a target without endangering innocent bystanders."

Richard adds, "We're equipped to deal with any situation that comes down the pipe."

Criminals should consider this a warning. Deputies, of course, hope they won't have to use the weapons, but if a situation warrants it, they will fire on command.

The weapons are worth thousands of dollars and were paid for by a grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. The weapons were actually from surplus and were used in the Vietnam War.