- Oct 11, 2000
http://www.ktvu.com/station/14553769/detail.htmlBy JEFFREY KOFMAN
Nov. 27, 2007
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department is building up an arsenal of bigger weapons. Handguns and shotguns are no longer enough, and officers are being equipped with semiautomatic assault rifles instead.
Cpl. Paul Rubino of the sheriff's department had a matter-of-fact explanation for the upgrade, "All I know is that we should have the same firepower as the bad guys."
Watch Jeffrey Kofman's full report tonight on "World News With Charles Gibson" at 6:30 ET. This is part two of the two-part series "Officer Down."
His explanation is justified by multiple incidents. In September, a suspect wielding an AK-47 fired on Miami-Dade County police officers, killing one and injuring three. This month, a West Palm Beach gang member fired an AK-47, killing an 8-month-old baby.
Police departments from Danbury, Conn., to Dallas to Portland report that they are encountering more assault weapons and are arming their officers accordingly.
This surge of deaths stemming from semiautomatic assault weapons seems unnecessary. In 1994, President Clinton signed a law banning the sale of these weapons. But in 2004, President Bush and Congress allowed that ban to expire. Since then, Congress has made it illegal to keep nationwide statistics data on crimes committed with assault weapons.
But the city of Miami has its own data, which shows that last year, the police department seized 10 assault rifles. So far this year, it has seized 50.
Miami police Chief John Timoney said, "There's a need for Congress to step in here and pass some reasonable legislation that reduces the availability of these weapons in the hands of people who shouldn't have them."
Until that happens, the arms race between the criminals and the police will continue.
Excellent. Now I feel more secure knowing that not only the criminals have more assault rifles, so does the average cops as well.More Police Departments Implementing Assault Weapons Training
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to the latest FBI crime numbers, police in the Bay Area have a fight on their hands when it comes to reducing the number of murders, assaults and rapes. For a second year in a row, violent crime is up in San Francisco, rising by almost 550 incidents between 2005 and 2006.
In Oakland, violent crime skyrocketed by 1,870 incidents. To help crack down on this surge, more police are upgrading their firepower. A recent poll conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that all 20 departments randomly surveyed have either added weapons to patrol units, or have replaced firearms with military-style guns.
Our investigation found that San Francisco Police will soon be part of this trend. Next year, the police department will implement a patrol rifle program, where assault-style weapons will be standard issue for street cops.
The reason? Sergeant Steve Monina describes it as a more accurate tool that will give officers confidence to keep the streets safe. "You don't see the Marine Corps in Iraq walking around with handguns," Monina explained. "When street officers go after people who they think have guns, those can be dangerous situations, and they need the proper weaponry."
However, there is a downside to the weapons upgrade. When police wield a high-powered rifle, there's a higher probability of wounding an innocent bystander because bullets flying out of these guns can pierce walls.
What's more, police add that if the round misses the target, it could travel up to 3 miles unless it's stopped by something. Scott Knight of the International Association of Chiefs of Police said, "We need to worry all the time, every time we pull the trigger, where is that bullet going to go, and what's it going to pass through?"
This is one reason why police who take up bigger arms must be fully certified before they carry them out on the street. In San Francisco, officers must score 90% or better to pass the course.
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