By Rick Sallinger

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Douglas County Commissioners are expected to approve $500,000 of new equipment for its sheriff’s office after one of their deputies was shot to death and others were wounded in a New Year’s Eve shootout.

Deputy Zackari Parrish was killed and Deputies Taylor Davis, Jeff Pelle and Mike Doyle were wounded while conducting a mental health check on Matthew Riehl at the Copper Canyon Apartments. Castle Rock police Officer Tom O’Donnell also was injured.

Riehl used assault rifles, a shotgun, and a handgun. More than 100 rounds were fired.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said deputies are increasingly are being outgunned on the streets.

“We just want to do everything we can to move forward, be in a better position, give these deputies all of the tools in their toolbox to approach these volatile situations and have a fighting chance against the fire power that’s out there,” Spurlock said.

Deputies will be getting improved body armor that can withstand rifle bullets and every patrol car will be outfitted with semi-automatic rifles.

“We want to make sure there is a rifle in every vehicle for our staff,” said Chief Deputy Steve Johnson.

The department also hopes to get stronger ballistic shields, trauma kits for every patrol car and silencers for rifles.

CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger asked Johnson, “Had you had that equipment at the time [Deputy Parrish was killed], would it have prevented the loss of a life?”

Johnson replied,  “I don’t want to try and second guess that.”

In May of last year, Deputy Brad Proux made a traffic stop and encountered a man with an assault rifle, just another of several incidents.   The previous year Deputy Dan Bright was shot and seriously injured by a man with an AK-47 assault rifle.

It is hoped new and better equipment will help save lives, but as Johnson put it, “If we could have Zach back and didn’t need to ask for these increased weapons and equipment that would be our desire.”

The county commission is expected to approve $446,522 to buy the new equipment.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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