Years ago, law enforcement specialists like SWAT teams were the only officers to carry assault weapons, but now even small town police agencies are expanding access to the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M-16 rifle.
Patrol officers in Danbury, Conn., have been allowed to carry the weapons since 2003. Police departments in Merced, Calif., and Waterloo, Iowa, have deployed them in all patrol vehicles for several years. In Stillwater, Okla., about 70 miles west of Tulsa, every police patrol officer is issued an AR-15.
Officers in Los Angeles have been equipped with the weapons even longer, soon after a 1997 gunfight outside a bank where police faced a man armed with an AK-47. Officers in that situation had to go to a nearby gun store to get high-velocity weapons.
Timoney said it has become apparent over the last year that Miami officers need the option of more powerful weapons.
At this time the department doesn't have the money to equip everyone but if an officer wants it now he has the option to purchase his own.