Ammo rush affects cops, too

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Officers train with live ammo in this file photo taken at Andalusia’s law enforcement training facility.

Local law enforcement agencies are part of a growing group nationwide dealing with an ammunition shortage.

Officers are required to undergo an annual firearms “qualification;” however, at least two local agencies – the Andalusia and Opp police departments – qualify twice a year. Both police chiefs said Monday it’s increasingly difficult to obtain the needed ammunition for the exercises.

APD Chief Wilbur Williams said for his department, it takes 50 rounds of 40-caliber ammunition for each officer’s Glock service weapon to qualify.

“The last order we had, it took nearly six months for our standard order to get here,” he said. “We’ve had to reschedule some of our training and had to limit the amount of extra work we do.”

Williams said officers now undergo a higher level of tactical training which teaches offers to shoot more efficiently and ways to ensure a higher level of officer survivability.

Williams said patrol officers are armed with a rifle, a Bushmaster 223, the “dreaded assault rifle.”

“I think we waited almost nine months to get that last order of ammo in,” he said.

In Opp, Chief Mike McDonald said that only through planning have the shortages not impacted training at his department.

His officers use 100 rounds of handgun ammunition each to qualify. New police academy students are required to bring 1,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, and those numbers don’t include the ammunition needed for specialized training, he said.

“We haven’t had to put anything off, like training or sending people to the academy, but that’s only because we try to plan for those things,” he said. “It costs departments a lot of money to keep their people familiarized with weapons the way they should be.”

Both chiefs credit the nation’s ever-shifting political landscape with the shortage.

“I definitely think there’s an ammo shortage developing,” McDonald said. “It takes longer to get and the prices are inflated, too. I think it’s probably a result of a glutton of people buying various weapons and ammunition because of what may develop nationally in terms of gun control.”

Williams said law enforcement agencies aren’t the only ones impacted by the lack of bullets.

“Even now, take shotgun ammunition,” he said. “Here before, it was readily available anytime for anyone. Not so much anymore. Stores say they can’t get it.”