Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mass Cops Got Grenade

Like other law enforcers, West Springfield officers carry the usual handguns, handcuffs, pepper spray and ammunition.

Unlike most police departments, this particular police force is also equipped with 2 grenade launchers, 4 M-14 semi-automatic rifles and one M-21 sniper rifle.

According to the Boston Globe, West Springfield is one of 82 Massachusetts police departments that have obtained military surplus weapons over the last 15 years as part of a federal program.

West Springfield Police Chief Thomas Burke told 22News, the grenade launchers can be used to fire tear gas in the event of a riot or a standoff.

He says his officers are trained to use them if needed. "We haven't had to use this particular type of weapon but we have it in case we did," he said.

Chief Burke added that taxpayers already paid for the guns and it would be a waste to have them destroyed.

For the department, owning these weapons also means not having to wait for State Police to respond to a major emergency.

The bottom line, he said it's better to be prepared than sorry.

There are a handful of western Massachusetts police departments that have obtained military weapons from this federal program. Westfield has more than 30 rifles. Monson has 6 and Belchertown has 4.

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