Some civilians accept cops’ contention that they’re “out-gunned” by perps. Why not give officers access to a modern home defense black sporting rifle (a.k.a., “assault rifle”). Never mind the fact that police miss their target more often than not, sending 70 percent of their rounds into the community they serve. Then again, some taxpayers consider the idea of AR-toting cops something less than reassuring. Which may be the reason why New Haven police have left 80 Colt M4s in mothballs. But have no fear [sic]! The city’s Police Commission have created new guidelines for deployment; 20 of those bad boys are set to hit the street. While I would have preferred a link to the actual rules of deployment, the newhavenindepent.com reads us The Elm City’s rifle riot act . . .
Cops may need the rifles when they are faced with “criminal elements armed with superior firearms or other dangerous weapons,” and their handguns won’t suffice in defending themselves and the public, the order reads. In “certain critical life-threatening situations,” the rifles may save lives or help contain a suspect until the SWAT officers show up.
Only sworn officers may use the rifles. The department will keep them in a locked “rifle rack” inside a cop cruiser until they are needed, the order reads.
Before using the rifles, cops have to pass a training course approved by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. After that, rifle-holders will have to go through quarterly training and re-qualification with the Department Armorer, who is also tasked with maintaining the arsenal.
The rifles may be used in the following situations: When the suspect is wearing a bullet-proof vest or other “protective body armor.” When an officer can articulate a need beyond the scope of capabilities of the service sidearm” (the need has to be “reasonable” based on the circumstances). When the cop faces a suspect who’s in a “tactically advantageous position,” such as a fortified building or at a long distance away. In that case, a cop may use the rifle if it is “required to neutralize the threat posed by the suspect(s) and minimize the risk of death or serious bodily injury to officers or members of the community.”
Once a cop takes out a rifle, he or she shall have no other duties such as searching or handcuffing a suspect; the rifle-holder shall function solely as a “cover officer” until the rifle is put away.
The rifles are to be used in keeping with the department’s Deadly Force Policy.
Cops won’t get to take the rifles home at night, as they do with their sidearms. They’ll check out the rifles from a patrol vault at the beginning of the shift and turn them back in before the shift’s end. When rifles aren’t being used, they can’t be kept unattended in cop cars, according to the rules. They’ll be kept in a locked safe or in the storage vault at the Training Academy.
If a police officer violates proper procedure [ED: not to mention shooting the wrong person or collateral damage], they may have their rifle revoked or face other discipline . . .
The department put out a request a couple of weeks ago for officers who would like to carry the weapons, according to Adger. To qualify to do so, they have to meet a number of criteria: They must have a score of 90 or better in firearms training using the sidearm they have, have least three years on the force, be assigned to patrol, have no discipline action in the last year, have good attendance, and get a recommendation from their supervisor.
We good? Or do you share my apprehensions about the ever-increasing militarization of America’s police force?