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Boston Police To Give Some Officers Semiautomatic Rifles

An M4 Colt rifle is displayed at the Colt Defense Plant in Hartford, Conn. (Richard Lardner/AP)

An M4 Colt rifle is displayed at the Colt Defense Plant in Hartford, Conn. (Richard Lardner/AP)

One of the first issues Boston’s new mayor will have to confront is a new plan by the Boston Police Department to give police officers more firepower.

The department is planning to put semi-automatic rifles in the patrol cars of 2 officers in each of the city’s 11 districts, and train nearly 100 officers to use the high-powered weapons. The story was first reported in the Boston Globe.

A similar plan to add more semi-automatic rifles to the police force met sharp resistance just four years ago from community activists and Mayor Thomas Menino. Critics then and now cited concerns about an increasing militarization of the police force. But former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who implemented this as one of his last acts before stepping down last Friday, says the department needs such high-powered guns in order to respond to terrorist attacks.

Guest

Tom Nolan, former Boston Police Officer and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Radley Balko, senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post. He is author of the book “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.”

The Boston Police Department declined our requests to have a member of the BPD leadership come on Radio Boston.


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  • Cristique

    One question: How many rounds did police officers shoot into the hull of the boat where the Boston Marathon bomber was hiding? (Or is that “classified”?)

    He was known to be injured, but not known whether he had a hostage or devices that could have harmed civilians in the neighborhood if damaged by bullets. That logic escaped the “weapons training” of some very adrenaline-pumped officers who unloaded their weapons into a boat, parked in a driveway, in a densely populated neighborhood, with no escape route.

    We currently read about police in other cities shooting unarmed teens, sometimes accidentally. More bullets per second can only increase the probability of accidental injury to unarmed citizens in our city.

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