The odds that a local police officer in Massachusetts has access to a military-grade assault rifle, whether in the trunk of a cruiser or at a police station, are far higher than previously thought, says the Boston Globe. Some 82 cities and towns have introduced a total of 1,057 such rifles to their arsenals over the last decade, state public safety officials confirmed yesterday, many of them acquired in recent years in response to the fear of terrorist attacks.
Community leaders, surprised by the number of military weapons in use statewide, said they were upset by the lack of public discussion of the apparent “militarization” of local police. “The very fact community police are being equipped with semi-automatic weapons without a public discussion of the possible political and social implications is unfortunately a major step backwards in terms of Massachusetts’ national reputation for promoting progressive law enforcement strategy,” said the Rev. Eugene Rivers, pastor of the Azusa Christian Community and co-founder of the Boston Ten-Point Coalition.