Patrol ups ante against criminals with assault rifles for troopers
The Nevada Highway Patrol is using nearly $1 million to buy assault rifles for all 500 troopers and Division of Investigations detectives.
Deputy Director of Public Safety Chris Perry told the Interim Finance Committee that society has changed dramatically in recent years.
“We’re no longer faced with a criminal element that is armed with the old-style Saturday night special,” he said.
Increasingly, law enforcement is facing violent criminals – some with military training – armed with assault rifles.
“They’re no longer afraid to take on multiple officers,” he said.
Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, said he agreed with the decision, adding that the problem isn’t just in urban areas like Las Vegas.
“A lot of problems occur in rural areas and our Highway Patrol backs up local officers who are out-manned and out-gunned,” said Coffin.
The money for the purchases, Perry said, comes from funds generated by criminal forfeitures of everything from cash to equipment and vehicles used in crimes. The rifles themselves, made by Smith and Wesson, will cost $377,500. Another $3,000 or so is the cost of ammunition. More funding will buy such things as protective armor for every trooper.
The bulk of the rest is absorbed in training costs.
The total expenditure was $946,974.
Perry said there have been more and more assaults on officers including Thursday’s stand-off in White Pine County and the murder of Nye County deputy Ian Deutsch a year ago. The men arrested in White Pine used assault rifles to hold deputies at bay
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said she wasn’t challenging the need for the weapons and training, but she questioned the decision to make the purchases under emergency regulations, which avoid legislative review. She said Public Safety officials could have presented the item as a normal Interim Finance Committee request, giving lawmakers and staff more chance to review the request, with only a two week delay.
She described the decision as an “end run” around legislative authority, saying the department would have undoubtedly received approval for the purchases anyway.