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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