The Barbour County Sheriff's Department has eight new rifles, with seven that were purchased and one that was donated.
The BHI-15 advanced service rifles are from Blackheart International, a firearms manufacturer in Philippi, and Sheriff John W. Hawkins picked them up April 12. The company donated the eighth weapon in appreciation of the department's work and service to the community.
"It's a huge upgrade from what we had; they are second to none in quality and accuracy," Hawkins said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins loads ammunition into a BHI-15 advanced service rifle manufactured by Blackheart International April 12 at Blackheart International’s on-site training ground.
The new weapons are 5.56 mm AR-15 platform rifles manufactured and customized for the Barbour County Sheriff's Department. Hawkins was able to test the new model at the on-site training ground April 12.
The semiautomatic rifles are designed to offer maximum performance under even the most challenging situations.
"Because of the training we do, we recognize the quality and parameters needed in military and law enforcement firearms," said Rob Reaser, an employee of Blackheart International. "The citizens of Barbour County should take comfort in knowing that Sheriff Hawkins has made a commitment to outfitting his deputies with the best equipment and training available."
This is the first time the Blackheart International has customized weapons for the Sheriff's Department, it has worked with the department throughout the years.
"They've supported us, so we've supported them," Hawkins said.
The Sheriff's Department didn't have to use tax dollars to pay for these new weapons. The money came from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, which comes from property seized during drug busts.
Prior to receiving these new weapons, Barbour County police officers had been using an assortment of weaponry. Officers who were familiar with one type of rifle may have had to use another officer's weapon, one they weren't as familiar with.
Obtaining 8 new AR-15 rifles eliminates that inconsistency, since the officers will be familiar with the same weapon.