DNR-signDepartment of Natural Resources offices assigned to state parks are getting more firepower to go along with their handguns. DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says the officers are now learning to use assault rifles that will be assigned to them.

“We made a purchase of 37 AR-15s. There are actually 34 officers who are in training to be certified on these,” Baskins says. Baskins says the state parks are safe but the officers often assist other law enforcement agencies such as country sheriffs or state troopers.

“A lot of our state parks are located in more remote areas of the state and that includes some of the counties that don’t have very high populations,” according to Baskins. “So, at times, our officers do provide mutual aid.”

Baskin says the rifles will allow the officers to be prepared for any situation they might face. “One of the unfortunate realities of today is that we want to make sure that our officers have equipment that meets the standard of what they might encounter in some of their everyday duties in the parks,” Baskins says. Baskins says they are sworn peace officers who can enforce any of the laws on the books. The state park officers must pass proficiency tests before being issued a rifle.

Dean Borg of Iowa Public Radio contributed to this story.