Selah police officers to carry shotguns, along with handguns and rifles

SELAH, Wash. -- More guns are coming to the Selah Police Department. Every officer will carry a third firearm. KIMA asked the police chief whether that's the way to go in a city not known for violent crime.

"It's just a tool that we're adding to the belt," said Selah Deputy Police Chief, Eric Steen.

Not just any tool. It's the Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun.

The shotgun will be added to the handgun and rifle Selah officers already carry.

Selah's city council approved buying them after a request from the police chief. A memo from Chief Richard Hayes says, "we are asking our officers to conduct themselves more like SWAT officers, especially during an active shooter response."

"Days are gone when officers can circle the wagon around the incident and wait for SWAT," said Steen.

He says the shotguns will help officers break down doors. Something the chief says is critical during a school shooting. Officers will also have more options to use buckshot and non-lethal bean bag rounds.

Hayes said, "If those things are available and the city does not buy them, or we don't have them available to our officers, I can see a potential lawsuit that lethal force was used when maybe there was alternatives to that"

But in Yakima, these shotguns are a thing of the past. Its police officers can use them, but not many do.

"We have maybe two or three guys in the entire department that carries a shotgun," said Yakima Police Department spokesperson, Capt. Rod Light.

He says the department prefers the AR-15, a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle.

"The threat is out there, it's real, and we want to have at our disposal the best equipment possible to deal with those unfortunate circumstances when they come along."

Steen insists the shotgun remains popular among police departments. That it's simple to operate and easy to clean.

Steen says he has some concern about what people will think about adding to the arsenal. But, maintains it's necessary to be ready for the worst.

The Selah Police Department hopes to have officers using the guns by the end of summer. Hayes tells KIMA the department is also looking at buying shotguns that fire rubber bullets and teargas.