June 17, 2010

El Paso PD Latest to Up-Gun to M4 Carbines

As always, I have mixed feeling about this:

The El Paso Police Department on Wednesday unveiled its new M-4 rifles intended to provide every officer with greater firepower.

The department bought 1,145 after approval by the City Council's 8-0 vote in January.

Training with the M-4 is under way at the Police Academy, and the new weaponry will eventually be issued to every member of the department, from patrol officers up to the chief.

"It's a safety issue," said Sgt. Lawrence Lujan, an instructor at the academy. "The El Paso Police Department is catching up with the rest of the nation."

No good person wants those who protect us to be at the mercy of criminals with superior weapons. As a result, there has been relatively little public outcry as more and more law enforcement agencies around the nation give rifles to officers on patrol.

Arming officers with carbines in areas where criminal gangs are known to favor assault rifles makes sense on one level. Officers equipped with sidearms stand very little chance in an encounter with criminals armed with assault rifles. Issuing AR carbines gives officers equivalent standoff range and weapon capacity, and the choice of the .223 caliber means that the rifle is less likely to over-penetrate targets or materials beyond the target in event of a miss, and the likelihood of a fatal wound to bystanders dissipates comparatively quickly when compared to other rifle calibers.

At the same time, there are always questions about the training and maintenance of skills when agencies deploy a new weapon, and whether or not training standards will send officers into the streets armed with weapons perhaps better left to tactical units.

By they way, America, thank you for buying these firearms for El Paso. The $773,000 cost of the weapons was paid for with stimulus funds.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 17, 2010 08:38 AM

Interestingly, rifles are substantially easier for the average person--and the average officer--to shoot accurately. In addition, because they will, for the most part, not be carried on the person, they are more likely to be employed only in circumstances that allow a bit more time for sober reflection and analysis than is possible when there is only time for a handgun to be drawn and fired. Thus, the arming of officers with these rifles should not be feared but lauded.

Another positive aspect of this situation is that the carbines will likely replace shotguns as the long arm of choice. Shotguns, in the hands of police, have many drawbacks. Their proponents reflexively claim that the sound of cycling the slide is very effective in and of itself and that the ammunition available is very versatile. This is true primarily if an officer is being attacked by enraged waterfowl. In reality, shotguns have an effective range roughly the same as the handgun, and while the ammunition is indeed powerful, its effectiveness depends entirely on keeping the shot column close together--striking at very short range--rather than spreading the pellets in an expanding pattern. The weapon also has the problem of substantial recoil, report and muzzle blast, particularly indoors.
Combine this with the fact that most law enforcement agencies train with the shotgun each year by requiring that officers fire only a handful of rounds, if that, and the supplanting of the shotgun with a more effective and accurate arm should not be a source of concern.

I wonder, however if the weapons being issued are actually of M4 configuration--fully automatic weapons--or are the more common semi automatic versions of the shorter barrel, collapsing stock version of the AR-15 family.

In any case, I know that if I was enforcing the law near the border, I would consider such a rifle as merely part of the minimum equipment necessary to give me a fighting chance to return home after my shift.

Posted by: mikemcdaniel at June 17, 2010 09:58 AM

I agree. after watching the video of cops outgunned in california a few years ago and having to run to a near by gun store and beg for carbines to get back into the fight against the bank robbers covered in body armor and carying ak's I think it is a needed tool.

and, just a few weeks ago a border agent went up against mexican smugglers who had ak's so im of the mind that for larger spread out rural counties this is a necessity. for dense urban invironments I have doubts because of the over penetration of a 223 round and the high velocity but thier has to be a happy middle ground on this somewhere....

Posted by: rumcrook¾ at June 17, 2010 10:12 AM

Fine so far as it goes, but I firmly believe that local law enforcement should be barred from employing weapons forbidden the citizenry. This is not an issue in Texas, but I am thinking specifically of CA and MA here. Local cops in CA should not be allowed to arm themselves with ARs.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at June 17, 2010 02:26 PM

steve im not following your logic better flesh that out.

Posted by: rumcrook¾ at June 17, 2010 06:15 PM

Rum - Steve doesn't trust the police, or their political masters. I don't blame him.

Posted by: butch at June 18, 2010 03:27 AM

Frangible ammo would overcome the overpenetration problem, and I agree that the citizenry is guaranteed the same weapons as the police and the military by the 2A. The 2A was NOT written about duck hunting, but the ability to wage war against enemies foreign or domestic.

Posted by: cmblake6 at June 18, 2010 06:50 PM

Steve-incidents like Mumbai, Columbine, Bank of America North Hollywood, West Memphis, Tyler Texas court house shooting, Oakland officer slayings, hometown USA and on and on and on. There are no political handlers in policing; just a bunch of dedicated men and women (moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, husbands and wives) who have chosen to serve the public by placing their lives on the line so that we can all live in a safe community. In the middle of night when your door has been kicked in by a felonious thug, and at the mall when you are shopping and someone steals your purse, there are no political handlers determining whether or not an officer will respond to help you. There are just ordinary people in extraordinary situations who hear the call for help and that are willing to risk it all so that evil does not prevail...that is all....hug a cop and say thanks...most if not all agencies have ride-a-long programs that allow you to ride with a police officer to better understand and experience what it is that these public servants do.

Posted by: Lawrence Lujan at June 18, 2010 07:06 PM

Lawrence, if someone kicks in my door in the middle of the night, I'm not grabbing my telephone, I'm grabbing my gun. The police, at best, provide a bubble of deterrence in the line of sight around their car and/or person, and they investigate crimes after they occur. The old saying, never a cop around when you need one is true. Not because cops are lazy or incompetent or bad people, but because criminals do not commit crimes around cops.

CY, you're quite wrong regarding weaponry employed by criminals. Despite Hollywood and TV, there are very very few crimes committed with assault rifles (fully automatic rifles). "Assault weapons" is the term employed by the gun grabbers to denigrate the military type rifles which only fire one semiauto. With the exception of the Mexican border (a military area, not a police one, IMO) there is little need for cops to have a full auto carbine (assuming that M4 here means the actual military weapon).

Fact is, again despite TV, cops on the whole are rather poor shots. This, I argue is due to a few factors. One is that cops must have many different skills, and shooting is just one of many things they might have to do. Since most cops never fire their weapons in a non-practice situation, they tend to be much worse at shooting then say, advanced driving techniques, or evidence collection. Two is that the usual department qualification test is a yearly trip to the range. No kind of real world scenario, or shoot/don't shoot house with live ammo, just paper targets. So I don't think giving street cops a full-up military weapon is a good idea. Police should be police, not soldiers.

Posted by: Britt at June 18, 2010 08:11 PM