The highly controversial Albuquerque Police Department has drawn more criticism over their recent purchase of 350 AR-15’s with $350,000 of taxpayer dollars, amidst fears of the growing trend of police militarization.
Executive Director of the New Mexico chapter of the ACLU, Peter Simonson, said according to the Inquisitir, in relation to the mass purchase, “[They] are asking for trouble, in my opinion.”
The investigative team at KOB found the APD would be purchasing the assault rifles from a local vendor in Albuquerque, and would be receiving the firearms over a period of two years in batches of 50. During the second year, the APD would have the option to buy more assault rifles if they felt more were needed.
APD Police Chief Gordon Eden said in May, officers could no longer carry personally owned weapons while on duty. However, the APD Union President Stephanie Lopez said, according to the Republic, the officers should have these weapons since 320 officers are trained in the use of such rifles.
“There is a need to have these weapons on the street and within the department,” said Lopez.
The APD has made headlines in the past for what has been deemed excessive use of force, including the shooting and subsequent death of James Boyd, a homeless man, in the desert.
Boyd was deemed to be camping illegally in the desert when he was killed.
A video shows police firing a flash-bang grenade at Boyd, which was noticeably effective as Boyd seemed confused while police shouted orders at him. When Boyd did not comply to police orders, officers fired several rounds into Boyd’s back.
The DOJ also wrote a report saying the APD officers have a “pattern and practice” of using excessive and deadly force.
Simonson said, with further concern to the assault rifle purchase, “I think it sends a contradictory message to the public, and I think it should raise concerns about how seriously they’re actually taking the DOJ reforms.”