SYLACAUGA – Following the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers in July, community business owners in Sylacauga approached police Chief Kelley Johnson about whether his department had a need for rifles.

After learning Sylacauga police did not have rifles, they wanted to help raise funding to purchase them, group members told Johnson.

“We have shotguns and sidearms, but no long-range firearms,” Johnson said.

Johnson approached the City Council on Monday night during its work session about what the business owners had proposed. Within a short time, they had collected $19,193 to help purchase rifles for the department.

The police chief requested he be allowed to use money from different funding sources in his department to add to the contributed funds. Johnson said his department needed rifles for its 40 certified officers. He said the community businesses had collected two-thirds of the necessary funding.

During its meeting Tuesday, the council authorized purchase of the rifles using the contributed funds, with the balance of $10,367 to come from other Police Department budget sources.

The rifles will be AR-15s. Ammo and slings will also be bought. The bid amount for each rifle is $739, for a total cost of $36,482, including ammo and slings.

“I don’t think we would have gotten these rifles without the business community’s contributions,” Johnson said.

The council approved a bid submitted by Gulf States Distributors.

Johnson said it was “better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it.”

Council President Rocky Lucas thanked Johnson for taking a proactive approach for his department and the community.

“We want to thank these businesses also. Hopefully, we can recognize them here in a council meeting and offer our thanks for what they do in our community,” Lucas said.

Johnson said it will take more than 30 days to get the rifles. He was going to put a purchase order in for them Wednesday morning. He said the Police Department also wants to honor those businesses that contributed to this effort.