North Strabane police chief wants to upgrade firearms

The request includes new patrol rifles, semiautomatic shotguns and stop sticks

July 16, 2014
North Strabane Township police Chief Brian Hughes smiles while addressing township officials at their workshop meeting Tuesday night. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

North Strabane Township’s new police chief is once again asking for township officials to approve the purchase of more than $60,000 in new equipment he thinks is needed to upgrade the department.

Chief Brian Hughes asked township supervisors during their Tuesday night workshop meeting to consider spending $60,835 to buy new rifles, shotguns, stop sticks and office equipment so officers can use them immediately.

Supervisors Robert Balogh, Marcus Staley and Sonia Stopperich voted against a similar request last month and asked for more information from the chief about the spending. Hughes said he removed his Taser line item and lowered the amount of shotguns and office equipment in his request.

“In my opinion, the above equipment is very important to our operations and is needed as soon as possible,” Hughes said.

The biggest items are $27,000 for new patrol rifles and $14,000 for semiautomatic shotguns that will replace “pump-action” versions and be stored in every police cruiser. He said both are weapons that can be purchased by citizens at local gun shops, so his officers need to be properly equipped for any situation. He added the patrol rifles also include specialized scopes and other hardware.

“Those weapons, I feel, are vital to have in a police car given today’s day and age of active shooters,” Hughes said. “I believe our officers need to be effectively equipped.”

The purchase also includes $5,135 for “stop sticks” that are designed to help stop a vehicle that officers are chasing. The stop sticks, which slowly deflate the tires of a fleeing motorist, would be placed in each police car, Hughes said.

“It’s a safe way of trying to end a pursuit and the safest way we know right now,” he said.

Hughes also wants to purchase a Power DMS computer program that would help to eliminate the amount of paper the department uses. He estimated that officers print about 10,000 sheets of paper each month, and that the new computer system would streamline memos and push more paperwork onto intraoffice servers.

Supervisor Harold Close praised the idea to reduce paper consumption and make sure memos can be reviewed before meetings or briefings.

“There’s lost time and labor, as well as people coming in and going through these meetings rather than reviewing (documents first) on their computer,” Close said.

The supervisors are expected to vote again on the purchases at their next meeting July 22.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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