Miami-Dade Police are preparing for the worst and arming more officers with more powerful weapons, assault-style AR-15 rifles, to go up against the criminals' weapon of choice, the AK-47.
"The bad guys are improving their armament and so we have to do so as well," said Lt. Mario Knapp with MDPD.
Lt. Knapp trains patrol officers and first responders to deal with active shooter situations.
"We don't have time to wait for SRT. We don't have time to wait for tactical teams. We've got to be able to handle the threat as it comes," he said.
Video from ballistics company, ATS Armor, shows how a new bulletproof vest protects against a high-powered rifle. That's something soft body armor does not do. The additional rifles and new vests are a new approach to dealing with Miami-Dade's most violent criminals.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, at the firing range Thursday, received an up-close look at the new equipment.
"God forbid we have some kind of terrorist act here, lone wolf, wolf pack that's terrorizing Miami-Dade. Our first responders are going to be the first ones there, they need to have the firepower they need to have the protection. That's why we did it," Mayor Gimenez explained.
"In the theater in Colorado, in Paris, it's happening. It is a matter of when it is going to happen here, not if, but when it is going to happen in Miami," Knapp said.
Several hundred patrol officers are already armed with the rifles and new vests; hundreds more are being ordered. The goal is for all 1,400 officers to be better armed and better protected.