PHOENIX – Arizona's three university police departments are arming themselves with assault-style rifles, officials said.
The high-powered rifles would give school officers the ability to shoot at targets at the end of long hallways or atop tall buildings, officials said.
"Pistols that campus officers currently use aren't ideal for long shots," said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, University of Arizona Police Department spokesman. "Beyond 50 feet, you lose a lot of accuracy," Mejia said.
Arizona State University will be the first of the three schools to be armed with the rifles. Officers there will be trained to use them in the next few months, said ASU police spokesman Cmdr. Jim Hardina.
Before they can use the weapons, ASU officers will undergo 40 hours of training.
"We don't want to just throw rifles out there," Hardina said.
At UA, eight officers will get similar training before a rifle program launches there in four to five months, officials said.
Northern Arizona University officials said a rifle program was in the works, although a specific start date was not immediately available.
ASU has already purchased four of the new rifles at $700 each, and is looking to find money to purchase four more.