Facing sharp criticism, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will not approve a Boston Police Department plan to arm neighborhood officers with semiautomatic rifles, reports the Boston Globe. He did express some support for their use by specialized units. The police obtained 200 M-16s free from the U.S. military and made plans to train dozens of officers and arm them with the rifles. The Globe had reported that police officials told union leaders months ago that they planned to issue the weapons to precinct patrol officers, as well as specialized units such as the bomb squad and harbor patrol.
Menino expressed deep reservations Friday about the plans. He said he had not been briefed on the proposal until a few days ago, and was clearly unhappy about the idea of officers patrolling the city’s neighborhoods with high-powered semiautomatic assault weapons. Menino said the guns would be more appropriate for officers in elite units. “Maybe on specialized units, at special times, yes,” he said. While special units and patrol officers in other cities such as Chicago, Miami, and Denver use semiautomatic weapons, Boston’s plans ignited a backlash, with community leaders expressing opposition.