By Luke Voogt
Geelong police have commenced semi-automatic rifle training with more than 120 officers in the city set to qualify to use the weapons.
The training commenced this month after Victoria Police signed a contract for 300 semi-automatic rifles for uniform and frontline police to respond to armed offenders and terrorist attacks outside of Melbourne.
Acting Superintendent Peter Nichols said he hoped police would never have to use the weapons but that they had to be prepared to adapt.
While police would not be patrolling the streets with the rifles, the public could “have comfort” that well-trained officers were ready to respond to an armed offender or terrorist, he said.
More than 730 police officers from the Public Order Response Team and four 24-hour regional uniform stations – Ballarat, Geelong, Morwell and Shepparton – are receiving training for the rifles.
Victoria Police anticipates the training will conclude at the end of 2021.
The semi-automatic rifles will be securely stored at stations or in police vehicles and, generally, will not be within public sight, according to Victoria Police.
The rollout of the semi-automatic rifles, supplied by Huntsman Aus, follows a $25 million Victorian Government investment as part of the Community Safety Statement 2018/19.
The funding includes the costs of the rifles, gun ancillaries, storage, and station and vehicle upgrades, training and staffing.
The cost of the 300 firearms is approximately $1,172,500, according to Victoria Police equating to about $3900 per rifle.