Tempe PD adds AR-15s to some of its motor units

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The department installed the high-powered rifle on eight of its motor units about six months ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The department installed the high-powered rifle on eight of its motor units about six months ago. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A motorcycle can get to a crime scene faster than a regular squad car, and can often be the first officer on the scene. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A motorcycle can get to a crime scene faster than a regular squad car, and can often be the first officer on the scene. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The vast majority of the time, the guns stay locked with a special mechanism only the officer can open. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The vast majority of the time, the guns stay locked with a special mechanism only the officer can open. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It might make you do a double-take. A handful of motorcycle officers in Tempe have new additions to their bikes: AR-15s. 

Tempe is one of only a handful of cities around the country to do so. 

The department admits a long gun on the back of a two-wheeled vehicle may look strange to some at first. 

"People do notice. We've had both sides. We've had people concerned about how it looks. It looks militaristic," said Sgt. Ronald Elcock with the Tempe Police Department. 

Looks aside, the department says it has everything to do with response time. 

A motorcycle can get to a crime scene faster than a regular squad car, and can often be the first officer on the scene. 

"Maybe they can ride on a sidewalk, or they can cut through an apartment complex or a parking lot very quickly," said Elcock. 

And when they get there, the department says it doesn't want its officers outgunned by a suspect. 

The department installed the rifle on eight of its motor units about six months ago. They've already needed to deploy them but never needed to fire. 

"Reducing harm in Tempe, that's our goal and this is just another way, another avenue to reduce harm in Tempe," said Elcock.

The vast majority of the time, the guns stay locked with a special mechanism only the officer can open. 

Each officer has gone through 40 hours of additional training to have one. 

"So it's not something that anybody can go up there and grab off the back of the motorcycle," said Elcock. 

Quite a few regular squad cars also have AR-15s. That's been the case for years. The department has more than 100 total, including those used by the SWAT team. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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