STOCKTON (CBS13) – Rifle-carrying deputies will now be employed by one California county sheriff’s office to deter crime at large public gatherings.

San Joaquin County announced on Friday that – in light of the recent incidents like the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival – some deputies will be carrying rifles at community events where they’re doing security.

“We believe we will be providing a safer environment by enhancing security by having deputies carry rifles on their person, which is intended to both dissuade any potential threats and also reduce their reaction time should a life-threatening event occur,” wrote Sheriff Patrick Withrow in the announcement.

The sheriff’s office stresses that the highly visible deterrent is not meant to cause alarm.

“We understand and appreciate the need to balance the public’s concern for safety and the desire for law enforcement to not appear threatening, however safety comes first,” Sheriff Withrow wrote.

Withrow also noted that deputies have been given specialized training with the weapon they’ll be carrying.

Deputies carrying rifles will be present at Friday night’s Lincoln Center Live event in Stockton, the sheriff’s office notes.

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