Wrongheaded Policy on Police Weapons Hijacks
Smart Public Policy
The Chief of Police Needs to Provide the Elected Officials
With Objective, Trustworthy Information
Should Emeryville police carry AR-15 assault rifles? That's a public debate that didn't happen; our police officers in fact already do carry these controversial high powered rifles with them. Still, the City Council majority seems interested enough to begin an ex post facto debate on the issue. Last Thursday's Public Safety Committee was the opening salvo, so to speak, in the better-late-than-never debate.
So far what we've heard in this up until now one sided debate is that the Police Department has no choice about the weapons they carry; that's determined by the criminals and in the weapons the criminals happen to choose says our Chief of Police (the criminals in the aggregate presumably but unqualified nonetheless).
Emeryville Police Department's use of the AR-15 assault rifle and its high powered rounds that can literally blow a person's head off, specifically, what's being debated is the wisdom of these new weapons being carried by officers in their day to day patrols. Also at that consequential and revealing meeting, we watched the Chief present evidence that tantalizingly hints of a .50 caliber future; what's to come in Emeryville's arms race with criminals.
Thursday's meeting revealed an unfortunate lack of cogency on the side of the police department and Machiavellian tactics being used to shut off honest debate by the Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada and her friend on the Public Safety Committee, member Nora Davis.
The police use of deadly force was placed on the agenda by Vice Mayor and Committee Chair Scott Donahue and was intended to open up the debate, but it was seized upon by Chief Tejada as an opportunity to deceive the Council member decision makers present (at least the Vice Mayor) as she presented a 'war on police' narrative that necessitates a ramping up the firepower of the cops on the street. Since criminals are carrying these assault weapons, so must the police apparently.
Further, she attempted to mollify would be concerned citizens and Council members by signaling the AR-15's ordinary and 'reasonable' status by claiming the rifle is not even illegal in California and that the police aren't therefore carrying anything more than can be bought by ordinary citizens, a patently false statement.
The Chief of Police is enthralled with the idea that police must carry at least the same weapons that the criminals carry, hinting next in the line-up will be .50 caliber weapons. It was a sentiment echoed by Councilwoman Davis, "Force must be met with force" the Councilwoman stated, a fait accompli that would take the public out of public policy and place it instead in the control of criminals. This democratically disempowering and cynical worldview was presented after an officer made a presentation to the Committee about how police had recently found a criminal's cache of .50 caliber weapons, a gun that can take out a tank on a battlefield, a gun that's being employed more and more by ordinary criminals the officer said.
|Emeryville Police Chief|
In her days as Sausalito Chief of Police.
Now, in Emeryville, she's not
giving us an honest debate
on the AR-15 assault rifle.
To graphically show the special capacity for havoc .50 caliber weapons can wreak, the officer placed a round on the table next to other rounds, including the AR-15 round. These .50 calibers are what's coming next for the EPD and it would appear the Chief of Police is preparing the City Council to wrap their heads around the idea of our officers carrying this tank busting gun...we have no choice, remember? Councilwoman Davis was so impressed by the presentation, the dramatic sight of the huge .50 caliber round prompted her to demand the Emeryville Police Department weapon up and meet force with force.
To pause for a moment and express the obvious: this dumb line of argument makes no sense whatsoever and is reckless, frankly. In fact, we are not boxed in, our hands are not tied by criminals in Emeryville. This is not policy in the public interest and it's dangerous.
After the presentation that presaged our bleak future, Emeryville cops carrying .50 caliber weapons (mounted on the roofs of the cop cars?), the Chief of Police again told the assembled throng that AR-15s are not assault rifles...an opinion disguised as fact by our Chief. As we have said in the past, the Congress of the United States and the State of California disagree with her on that. It's unseemly that our Chief puts stock in the opinion of the NRA over the State of California on this issue. It's noteworthy that the police departments of the City of Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Jose all disagree with our Chief on the AR-15....they all agree with the State of California that these guns ARE assault rifles. Nomenclature is important because the debate frame will drive public opinion and transparency and forthrightness by government officials should be the the operating principle here.
|Coming Next to the Emeryville Police Department:|
The 'Tank Buster' .50 Caliber Rifle
'Criminals are starting to arm themselves with it,
so therefore must we.'
But it's Chief Tejada's insistence that public policy be hijacked in Emeryville by the whims of criminals and their ever increasing firepower that we find most objectionable. We urge the Chief of Police to stop this ham handed approach to policing. To the Chief: if you think it's prudent for our officers to carry AR-15 assault rifles, or .50 caliber rifles, then you should made a cogent and persuasive argument and don't rely on these dishonest and unbecoming tactics. Tell us why it's important for Emeryville police officer to carry whatever weapon you think is prudent and let's have a REAL and transparent debate.
To cut to the chase however, there's no war on police in America or in Emeryville and we believe its not appropriate for Emeryville police to carry AR-15 assault rifles (let alone .50 caliber guns). Studies have shown police tend to use new weapons given to them with increasing and increasingly inappropriate frequency. It's the old adage at play; when all you a have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. Police departments that issue tasers find their use by officers increases over time, increasingly with terrible effect on the public. Already, one person has been killed by Emeryville police with the newly issued AR-15 rifle.
The AR-15 is a high powered weapon and it can blast through a concrete block wall or penetrate three people and still have enough power to kill the fourth. It has the power to decapitate people. We don't need our police carrying that kind of firepower in their day to day patrols in our town. Perhaps these guns could be stored at the police station for use in the unlikely case one were ever needed.
But what we cannot countenance is for the Police Department to be used to purposefully obscure and now engage in forwarding actual misinformation to the decision makers and the citizens as they give us their opinion that they should continue to be allowed to carry AR-15's. Our Emeryville Police Department has a stellar reputation; it's a shame to see it unnecessarily marred like this.