By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Following a public hearing at which no one spoke, the City Council this week unanimously authorized the City Manager to accept and expend a federal grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase 15 Colt M4 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifles, along with slings, magazines and mounts.
A small group gathered outside City Hall before the council to protest what they called the militarization of the police at the expense of taxpayers. Some said the weapons are unnecessary. Others said if the residents of Laconia want to arm their police officers with rifles, city taxpayers should pay for them. Still others expressed concern about what they called the militarization of the police. However, none spoke at the public hearing, which opened at 7:32 p.m. and closed before a minute passed.
Laconia Police Capt. Matt Canfield said the rifles are intended for use in the event of of an active shooter situation or when police are confronted by a shooter similarly armed. The rifles will be kept at the Police Station and with each shift will be assigned to officers, who will stow them in a locked mount between the seats of the cruiser. When the shift ends, the rifles will be returned to the station.
Each rifle is sighted and assigned to a particular officer and cannot be shared. The department already has 21 rifles and with the additional 15 will have one for each sworn officer.
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