Law enforcement official says police need military-style weapons
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 24, 2014) — Advocates and critics of equipping local police departments with military-style weapons, such as those used in Ferguson, Mo., spoke today in Frankfort before an Interim Joint Committee on Local Government.
Eastern Kentucky University professor Dr. Peter Kraska said the weapons owned by police departments are similar to those used by SWAT teams on raids. He said there have been 60,000 contraband raids nationally, and called the raids “the misapplication of the military model.
Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders, who has spent 40 years in law enforcement, including 24 years as a federal drug enforcement agent, said police officers need to be militarized, saying they “can’t rely upon the military. And when we’re out there in the middle of the night responding to an active shooter situation, it might be something that we need.”
He said, “We’re no longer dealing with sling shots and fishing sinkers. We’re dealing with automatic weapons. And you know, the military’s not going to respond.”
Rep. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) questioned balancing the cost of equipment with the cost of putting more police on patrol. She said additional taxes were recently imposed in Louisville to hire additional police officers “because we don’t have enough officers…”
House Local Government Committee Chair Rep. Steve Riggs (D-Louisville) hinted that oversight may be at issue. “What I see missing is there doesn’t seem to be anybody in charge of determining where is the misapplication in the beginning,” Riggs said.
Reading from a list of military-style equipment received by local law enforcement agencies around Kentucky, Riggs said Allen County has 16 M-16 assault rifles, and three law enforcement agencies –Lexington-Fayette County, Pulaski County, and Scott County—have received helicopters.
“There may be people that say it’s surplus…and here’s why we need it but … we’re missing someone who’s not biased who says ‘perhaps that’s a misapplication, and you don’t need 16 (rifles), maybe you need three,’” said Riggs.