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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Emeryville Police Should NOT Carry AR-15 Assualt Rifles

Wrongheaded Policy on Police Weapons Hijacks 
Smart Public Policy

The Chief of Police Needs to Provide the Elected Officials 
With Objective, Trustworthy Information

Opinion/News Analysis
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).

Councilwoman Nora Davis
We have no choice in the matter,
"Force must be met with force" she says.
On the table in the foreground are bullets,
the largest being a .50 caliber round
tank buster, the next weapon to be carried
by the Emeryville Police Department.
Public policy must be subverted we're told, all in service of a dubious meme that would lock us into an arms race with criminals.  The other side of the debate, promulgated by those who would advocate for a polity that doesn't lock us unnecessarily into that predetermined fate, those who say smart police tactics are what's called for and force need not slavishly be met with equal force, is countered by the Chief and also by Councilwoman Nora Davis as it turns out.  It's all being played out over the the 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
Jennifer Tejada

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 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.


  1. The Emeryville Tattler's Feb. 13th Opinion/News Analysis may be redundant, but its point is salient and resilient - Police Departments exist to deter crime, not to imitate it.

  2. Game over Brian- You know that Nora runs this town. If she wants the Police to carry AR-15 rifles or .50 caliber rifles it's a done deal. Been that way for years!

    1. Well I think that's incorrect. Nora Davis is a spent force. After the last election we Emeryville voters elected the first progressive majority in our town's history and now Nora finds herself without a majority. The fact we are even talking about the police carrying assault rifles as something we could stop is evidence of the new paradigm. Having said this though it's not clear the Council majority will take these guns out of the cop cars. We'll have to wait and see.

  3. Sorry, but you really actually don't know anything about the ballistics/performance of a .223/5.56 round if you think it can kill 4 people with a single round or will decapitate people. I'm speaking as both a former police officer and a former soldier. If you want to actually see what they do, look at the thousands of photographs online of feral hog hunting done with AR platformed rifles.

    1. The damage to living tissue totally depends on the type of round you're chambering.

    2. I'd be interested to find out what type of .223/5.56 round you think can decapitate someone or blow through 4 people. Pretty sure one of the reasons our armed forces decided to switch from .308/7.62 to .223/5.56 was because it's considered a wounding round. The concept here is if you can wound one enemy soldier then you have effectively taken out 3 because it will take 2 more enemy soldiers to carry the wounded to safety whereas the .308 is more likely to kill thus leaving the other enemies to continue fighting. There are other reasons as well. Anyway, I totally disagree with your assessment of the damage potential of the small .223 round. Next up, I think the public has a right to voice their opinion (free speech and all) but I also think they should defer to the knowledge and expertise of the Police Chief in this matter, that's why she was hired! Over and out!

    3. A large part of the Public Safety Committee meeting was devoted to the destructive power of the AR-15. One of the primary reasons the Chief of Police wants officers to carry the weapon is because criminals are increasingly using body armor. The police need a high power gun to pierce body armor she says...hence the AR-15. Even kevlar armor can't stop a round from an AR-15 and she needs the Emeryville police to be able to stop these armor wearing criminals.

      I disagree that citizens should defer to the Chief of Police. You can do that if you want but I'm not going to. I don't think you should give away your own agency like that...but it's your choice.
      The Chief is entitled to her opinions about the necessity for Emeryville cops carrying these weapons but she is wrong. All she seems to be considering is the safety of the officers. We, the citizens that aren't officers, have other interests beyond that. There are two different interest groups here; the police and us. We expect the Chief to defend her interests and not ours. It's up to the City Council to decide what's in the people's interests, not the Police Department's interests because they work for us. The police shouldn't carry these weapons because we are harmed by that and the Chief hasn't acknowledged that. While we recognize she has her interests she's attending to, we still expect her to not lie to the Council and obscure the debate about this as she has been doing. She wasn't hired to do that!

  4. what is the problem with this air rifle, is this creating some problem, then replace it with other one

  5. My opinion,my family has been here since the 40's,is that the police need to be able to hold their own against all the gun toting , criminals. We get so much bleed over from Oakland. I know I personally don't want to lay another police officer to rest.

    1. So it should be tit for tat? Cops should carry .50 caliber weapons now because the criminals are starting to carry them? Public policy should be set by criminals?

  6. Police no need to carry the gun but should reduce the illegal use of guns. Make the gun laws against misuse of criminals.