Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Despite accusations of excessive force, Albuquerque police purchase 350 AR-15 rifles

Published time: July 11, 2014 18:50
An AR-15 rifle (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)

An AR-15 rifle (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)

​The Albuquerque (New Mexico) Police Department has ordered a cache of high-powered rifles despite reprimands from the US Department of Justice, as well as widespread community protests, over the department’s recent record of excessive force.

Albuquerque police have called on a local vendor to supply 350 AR-15 rifles, according to KOB-TV, which cost approximately $1,000 each. The contract calls for the rifles to arrive over the next two years. Subsequent quantities of 50 rifles are part of the deal, if the department deems them necessary.

An AR-15 was used to kill James Boyd, a homeless man who was gunned down by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in March. APD approached Boyd because he was camping in a mountain area outside the city.

Video footage of the shooting quickly went viral, inciting mass demonstrations in the city and pleas with police to institute training programs that would better prepare officers for confronting the mentally ill.

The US Department of Justice recently released the findings of a 16-month review into the APD, stating that the department’s use of excessive force had caused a number of unjustified fatal shootings by officers in recent years. The DOJ recommended a “systematic change.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels addressed Albuquerque Mayor Richard Barry in a 46-page letter, which discussed the circumstances around 20 fatal shootings by the APD between 2009 and 2013. Federal officials determined that in the majority of those cases where police killed citizens, the amount of force was unnecessary because the individual killed did present an immediate threat to anyone around them.

“We have determined that structural and systemic deficiencies – including insufficient oversight, inadequate training and ineffective policies – contributed to the use of unreasonable force,” the letter said, as quoted by the Albuquerque Journal.

APD Chief Gorden Eden said in May that officers would no longer be allowed to carry their personally-owned weapons, including AR-15s, while on duty. The DOJ review found that APD officers would acquire expensive weapons, considering them “status symbols.”

"I think it sends a contradictory message to the public, and I think it should raise concerns about how seriously they're actually taking the DOJ reforms," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, of the APD’s new AR-15 order.

The national ACLU recently released a report that found local police departments across the US are are increasingly more militarized, assuming a war-like stance in dealings with citizens and in using high-powered equipment previously reserved for the battlefield.

APD Union President Stephanie Lopez said around 320 officers have paid for training to shoot rifles, and that there is a need

“to have these weapons on the street and within the department," she said.

"I don't think it's militarizing the department," she added.

Lopez said an October chase for a shooting suspect, who targeted Albuquerque officers using an assault rifle, showed that more than standard handguns are needed by police.

"They were ineffective," she said, in countering the suspect’s more-powerful weapon.

Chief Eden only responded to KOB’s request for comment with a statement given by a spokesperson.

"The rifles were ordered as replacements for officers' authorized personally-owned rifles. They are being issued only to officers who are qualified to carry rifles and do not represent an increase in the number of rifles carried by APD officers. Chief Gorden E. Eden, Jr. ordered replacement side arms for all officers in a move towards standardization of weaponry. This is an extension of that program to ensure that officers who are authorized to use certain equipment are using the standardized equipment issued by the Department. The replacement rifles are the standard type of rifle used commonly by police departments throughout the United States and may be purchased by any person at a commercial retailer. The rifles cost approximately $1000 each and the bid was awarded to a local vendor."

Comments (25)

 

William Burke 14.07.2014 21:07

Tony Curtis J. 14.07.2014 14:24

Terry - Only as items such as body armor soft & hard are available to the general public, Police have to meet that with the same or higher level. That's why you are seeing heavy armor vehicles, police wearing body armor as well.

  


Name me one crime against police in ABQ committed by a person with an AR-15.

 

William Burke 14.07.2014 21:06



"The AR15 is a 223 cal fully automatic combat weapon that every member of local police will be issued and will use often."

Not true - this depends on the department. MOST will not use this feature and resort to changing the internal parts to semi on the rifle as FULL auto/3 rd burst is a huge legal issue with the government agency.[/quote]

An AR-15 is a semi-automatic ONLY rifle. The ones beginning wit "M" are select-fire weapons.

An d the 5.56mm/.223 round does not meet the standards for being "high-powered&q uot;; that's reserved for weapons of .30 caliber and above.

 

Tony Curtis J. 14.07.2014 14:24

Terry - Only as items such as body armor soft & hard are available to the general public, Police have to meet that with the same or higher level. That's why you are seeing heavy armor vehicles, police wearing body armor as well.

"The AR15 is a 223 cal fully automatic combat weapon that every member of local police will be issued and will use often."

Not true - this depends on the department. MOST will not use this feature and resort to changing the internal parts to semi on the rifle as FULL auto/3 rd burst is a huge legal issue with the government agency.

View all comments (25)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us