Monette City Council voted to purchase three assault rifles for the Police Department at the regular council meeting held Monday, Jan. 21.
Policeman Kevin Bond addressed the council concerning the need for additional weapons for long-range protection.
"Shootings are on the rise across the nation," Bond said. "We had an incident last month, where a BIC high school student had made terrorist threats at school. Fortunately he was arrested before anything happened. We don't have guns to use that could shoot effectively from one end of the high school building to the other end, if needed. It would take the county SWAT team 20 minutes to an hour to get to Monette. We could have a major catastrophe on our hands without proper defense."
Bond also related a shooting incident in Lake City last week that could have resulted in the emergency need for assault weapons capabilities.
With a prepared handout, Bond referred to 58 separate incidents involving public school shootings since 1996.
"County deputy Brandon Womack had a close encounter last year while on patrol when he was threatened," Police Chief Brian Carmichael said. "Fortunately backup came from Leachville just in time to avoid a potential tragedy. There are just times we need better weapons for more protection."
"There has come a time and a need for these," said Alderman Shawn Nance. "I am for it."
The policemen recommended the purchase of three Bushmaster AR 15 semi-automatic assault rifels at an estimated cost of $2,673.93.
"AR 15s have been getting a bad name lately, but they are used by thousands of officers very effectively," Carmichael said. "They are good tractable weapons and are needed now more than ever."
After a brief discussion the council approved the purchase of the three weapons, with the stipulations that officers receive formal training and certification before the rifles are used. All three police cars will be equipped with guns. Vehicle gun mounts will be purchased at a later date.
City Clerk Vickki Carroll expressed the need for more in-house storage for past records needed for future audits. Mayor Qualls agreed to secure bids on construction of shelves and storage units.
The council declared an emergency and passed Ordinance 2013-3 on all three readings. The total budget for the city included revenues and certificates of depositing totaling $1,397,685.
The council declared an emergency and passed Ordinance 2012-5 on the third reading. The ordinance deals with unsightly and unsanitary properties.
The council passed Ordinance 2012-6 on the first reading. The ordinance contains reasons for houses and structures to be condemned, legal notification, potential liens and removal of structure.
Mayor Chub Qualls reported in his State of the City report the different items involving progress made in the City of Monette during 2012. He listed employee raises, grants, computer, state sales tax revenues, new business, and balancing the budget. He reported the establishment of two new committees, which included Monette Cemetery and Planning Commission.
The council reviewed and accepted the 2010 and 2011 Water and Sewer audit reports from CPA Tim Short.
The council set Wednesdays at noon for testing emergency weather sirens, for a two-month period.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at city hall.