Police union wants cadets to be trained to use rifles

Posted at: 11/04/2013 10:49 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

When an Albuquerque man shot three police officers and a sheriff’s deputy with an AK47, it raised the question: Do APD officers need more powerful weapons?

Cops all over the state are up against some heavily armed criminals.

A room in downtown Albuquerque holds dozens of firearms confiscated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Agents have taken all kinds of firearms out of the hands of convicted felons around New Mexico for years.

They’ve dealt with drug traffickers and gun traffickers trying to cross into Mexico.

“For instance, you have a Mac-10 with a silencer,” said an undercover agent. “These were very popular in the 80s during the Miami Vice times… With the silencer it'll sound like a gust of wind."

They don’t see a whole lot of Uzis nowadays, but they confiscate a lot of high powered rifles.

This is what law enforcement is faced with every day.

Criminals are sometimes better armed than they are.

The APD police union has said if officers had rifles two Saturday’s ago, the shooting rampage could have ended sooner.

But at Monday night’s city council meeting, the police union president backed off her initial proposal.

“I realize that it's not necessarily just having every officer equipped with it,” said Stephanie Lopez.

Interim Police Chief Allen Banks says his department is one of the best equipped departments in the nation.

“What [Lopez] didn't realize until our conversation this weekend is that our officers have the eligibility to qualify and be certified to carry rifles while they're on patrol,” said Banks. “You have to have years of experience on the department per SOP and you have to qualify certain percentage at the range to be able to carry a rifle.”

An undercover agent says before his 25 years with ATF he was a cop in Las Cruces in the 80s, when a revolver was all he had against the bad guys.

“I had shooting situation one time with a guy with an AK47,” he said.

Most of the guns in the room will be destroyed, he said.

But those who keep us safe know there are more out there.

“As long as you have money you're going to get what you want,” he said.

Lopez still wants to see everyone from cadets to officers currently on the streets be trained to use rifles and then decide whether they want to carry them.

But she says she also just found out that half of APD has already gone through the training, deciding not to carry a rifle.