“[Police Benevolent Association’s Vice President John Evans] recently told the Common Council’s Police Oversight Committee that police need more in the way of firepower,” an editorial at New York’s Buffalo News reports. “He would like each of the department’s 450 to 500 patrol officers equipped with the likes of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, in addition to the .40-caliber Glock service handgun they currently carry.” Evans reckons officers are limited because the handgun has a range of only 50 to 100 yards. The AR-15 is effective at a range of hundreds of yards.” The Police Commissioner and the News disagree . . .
Derenda said department leaders are “studying the proposal,” but questioned whether each officer needs an AR-15 for standard patrol. We agree. Notwithstanding the firearm’s informal label as the civilian counterpart to the military-issued M16 or M4, this is too much lethality.
So it’s not “too much lethality” to be lethal with a handgun but it’s way too lethal to be lethal with rifle.
That aside, Mr. Evans’ argument for arming his officers with AR-15s was misleading and woefully incomplete. A rifle is far more accurate than a handgun at any distance. Which makes them less lethal than a handgun – at least in terms of not shooting innocent bystanders.
As a qualified Active Shooter Instructor, I can tell you without any reservations that a rifle is the best possible tool for stopping a threat, be it a criminal, a crazy or a terrorist. Lest we forget, it’s now standard practice for a responding officer to take the fight straight to the shooter, not to wait for backup. Apparently, the Police Commissioner and the News didn’t get the memo.
No one is questioning the inherent dangers faced by police every day. There may be situations where criminals or the mentally ill have greater firepower. Two years ago outside Rochester, an ex-convict set his car and house on fire and then ambushed firefighters, killing two and wounding two others. He was armed with an assault-type rifle and other weapons. Such circumstances call for specialized response, the reason police departments have SWAT teams.
Evans told reporters the PBA “is aware the department has a SWAT team with increased firepower.” He claims it can take up to an hour before the unit arrives at the scene after a patrol officer encounters a threat. Derenda says SWAT can be deployed rapidly. But if there is a delay, the answer is not giving every officer a high-powered rifle. Rather, any time lag deserves immediate attention and correction.
Sure. Let’s wait for the SWAT team. Like the Connecticut police did as Dr. Petit’s family was slaughtered. Or the cops did at Columbine as gunmen mowed down students at the local high school. Not to mention all the other tragedies where the police set up a perimeter and waited for the “experts” to show up as innocent lives were lost. Which lead to the current thinking on active shooters.
Derenda is reluctant to specify the department’s strategy and strength beyond saying the department is equipped to face terrorists and other threats. Such reticence is understandable – there’s no sense is helping criminals.
I’ve got something of a rep for being anti-cop. Not true. I’m anti-bad cop and against police militarization (e.g., MRAPs and over-reliance on SWAT teams). I’m also in favor of giving police the tools they need to do their jobs. Anything less is helping criminals.
And, by the way, I’m also against New York’s SAFE Act, which denies citizens the natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear the arms they need to defend themselves and other innocent life. The more AR-equipped law-abiding citizens — which [I hope] includes police — the better.