New rifles to respond to critical incidents

Following a comprehensive tender process, Victoria Police has signed a new contract that will deliver 300 semi-automatic rifles to be used by uniform and frontline support police throughout the state from mid-2020.

The new weapons will be supplied by Huntsman Aus and will expand Victoria Police’s capability to respond to active armed offender and terrorist attacks outside of Melbourne.

More than 700 police officers from the Public Order Response Team (PORT) and four 24-hour regional uniform stations – Geelong, Ballarat, Morwell and Shepparton – will be trained to use the rifles in response to critical incidents.

PORT have been selected to receive the semi-automatic rifles as they are a frontline support unit which can be deployed anywhere in Victoria in response to major events, issues and high-risk times. The four regional stations have been selected to ensure there is a strengthened response in key regional areas

The rifles will not be personally issued and will instead be assigned to the relevant areas to be delegated each shift.

Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton, Regional Operations, said the introduction of the new weapons follows the rollout of active armed offender training to all police officers and the release of the new hostile vehicle policy; all of which are designed to uplift officer capability when responding to critical incidents.

“Let me be clear, it will be a very sad day if the rifles are used, but the reality is we need to be prepared if an active armed offender or terrorist attack was to occur in regional Victoria,” Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

“By expanding this capability to four key regional hubs and PORT the community can be reassured we have trained officers who can respond to these incidents in a timely manner.

“I also want to reassure the community that police officers will not be patrolling the streets with the rifles as part of general duties. Unless they are responding to a critical incident, the rifles will be securely stored at the police station or in vehicles and the community won’t see them.”

All members across the organisation will be provided with awareness training specific to the deployment of semi-automatic rifles from March 2020. The training of more than 700 officers will then progressively be rolled out from June next year until the end of 2021.

The rollout of the semi-automatic rifles is due to a $25 million investment from the Victorian Government as part of the Community Safety Statement 2018/19

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