Laurel Park – Two tactical patrol rifles and more police dog gear are the latest gifts of the citizens’ group Stand TALL to help equip local law enforcement.
Laurel Park received the two rifles with $2,000 donated by the non-profit led by Ron Kauffman, Chief Bobbie Trotter said. The long-range rifle model is the FN223. It is described as a lower-end tactical weapon designed for police patrol and precision accuracy. Online reviews of FN223 praise its smooth operation and its detachable magazines to swiftly switch ammunition types to fit the situation such as to use glass-smashing rounds.
Chief Trotter said the rifles are indeed “tactical” and are most helpful for assisting other units in a hostage or other stand-off situation requiring longer-range shooting. She emphasized that they are an auxiliary weapon and not one that her officers will be normally brandishing. “This is another tool in the box.”
These rifles supplement Laurel Park’s arsenal of mostly tasers and handguns for routine use and also shotguns. Tasing a suspect is by far the preferred action to use counterforce to control a person who is dangerously out of control and poses a threat to officers or civilians, the chief noted.
She also said the use of force and restraint and other police training is more in-depth than ever these days. She said that while there is more heightened anti-police sentiment, especially in large cities nationwide that Laurel Park residents act more grateful than ever. “We get even more ‘thank you’-s,” Chief Trotter said. “The overwhelming public supports us.”
Chief Trotter said once her department let Stand TALL know of its needs, “they jumped right on it.” The rifles were purchased in mid-April.
She is also thankful for the Stand TALL’s prior donation of two patrol bicycles. Patrolling on a bike is up the alley of more personable community policing. Courtesy services on patrol include doing house checks for residents who notified police when they would be gone and requested the checks.
Stand TALL earlier provided laptop computers. Another gift was a security camera to monitor the drop-off box outside Laurel Park’s station to deposit spare medicines. Local agencies do this to reduce medicines laying around and being possible targets for theft by drug addicts or dealers.
More Help for K9 Units
Stand TALL’s latest donation was July 6th. That is when the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office received a “bite suit” and leather gloves for deputies to wear in training dog aggression, and other K9 gear not in the sheriff’s budget. A bite suit is worn by the canine’s trainer/handler and another deputy who plays the role of an attacking perpetrator — and thus gets bitten by the police dog.
Other new items include hydration backpacks for water and collapsible water dishes for canines to drink out of while tracking suspects and when it is very hot.
Kauffman noted K9s are critical in local “narcotic searches, tracking and apprehension situations.”
He said the equipment exceeded $2,300 in cost. He noted an initial donor provided most of the money.
Lt. Kevin Holden leads the K9 division that has nine police dogs and their handlers. Holden listed needs and Stand TALL funded them. This was after Major Frank Stout identified K9 as a priority area needing equipment replaced. He said prior bite suits were severely worn.
Stand TALL funded materials used to construct the sheriff’s K9 Agility Training Park two years ago.
Black Mountain Police also got gear from Stand TALL for police dogs as the non-profit is expanding its scope to Buncombe County and beyond. They presented a $510 field trauma kit to BMPD K9 officer Logan Newhouse in April. The kit has first aid for the canine.
It also has Narcan that officers administer to people who are overdosing or humans or police dogs who came into contact with opioids, such as in a house search for drugs. Lt. Chris Staton started the BMPD K9 unit ten years ago.
Stand TALL V.P. Sharon Hanson leads fundraising efforts for area police dogs.
Stand TALL (Thank A Local Lawman) formed five years ago. Its donations earlier this year include three $500 breach tool kits for Hendersonville Police. They enable officers to break through locked doors to enter a building or vehicle.
Stand TALL supplied Blue Ridge Community College with five two-way radios for law enforcement cadet training to replace outdated ones.
Check thestandtall.org to donate online or to find out more about Stand TALL and law enforcement funding needs.