Burnsville police will spend $48,532 to replace the department's 27 rifles.

The old rifles, which the department has had for 10 years, will be sold to the supplier of the new rifles for a price estimated at $5,000 to $8,000.

The department has rifles in all marked squad cars, at the command post, at Burnsville High School, Nicollet Middle School and at the Dakota County Drug Task Force.

They are kept in locked locations in the schools with the permission of school officials, Police Chief Eric Gieseke said.

"The officers that are at the school now obviously have their firearm available," Gieseke said. If an issue or a potential threat came up, officers would be in a better position to respond with a rifle, and the longer range would allow them to protect students from a greater distance if necessary, he said.

The new Colt A-15 rifles will last longer — 15 years — and be easier to to maintain, Gieseke said. In trials, the department found that cleaning the new models takes less than half the time of the older models.

A common police rifle, the Colt had been on a six-month back order due to a national shortage, the department said in a presentation to the City Council. "They are currently in high demand as many police departments are updating their rifles in response to recent high-profile school shootings."

Rifles and ammunition also were difficult to procure for a period of time when people thought the federal government might tighten the rules for purchasing guns, Gieseke said.

Because of the order backlog and because many of the old rifles jammed with mechanical failures during police force training in May, the department ordered replacements for all 27.

The rifles, which cost $1,645 each, will be purchased with money saved from the police operating budget and from the department's forfeiture fund, which receives money from court fines and property forfeited by people who have broken the law. □