By John Lynds
One thing the shooting of Officers Richard Cintolo and Matt Morris two weeks ago on Gladstone Street in East Boston demonstrated that Boston police and police nationwide are facing more powerful weaponry on the streets.
Over the summer, the Boston Police Union Police sent a letter to Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans demanding better equipment in order to properly respond to the increased threat to law enforcement personnel.
“Officers and other public safety personnel are being murdered across this country at an alarming rate,” the letter read. “We demand the promised back up equipment in the Patrol Supervisor’s Vehicles that was promised well over a year ago.”
The equipment the Boston Police Union asked for included extra loaded magazines for officers, ballistic shields and helmets, extra radios and or batteries, first aid kits,and cases of water for long term siege operations.
However, the most controversial request was the Union’s request for high powered rifles or ‘long guns’ for every patrol officer. Last summer this was met with resistance from the Mayor and Commissioner as they did not want residents to feel the city’s police department was becoming ‘militarized’.
However, Boston Police Spokesman, Lt. Michael McCarthy said this week that the Commissioner and Union have been in discussions for over a year and the Department has in fact purchased long guns and other equipment for Officers.
“We have already purchased and are in the process of scheduling training for every district shift supervisor on using these weapons,” said McCarthy.
While the Union asked for long guns for every officer, McCarthy said the long guns will be distributed to each District shift supervisor and be stored in every shift supervisor’s car.
“The Commissioner wants to make it understood that this has been something in the works for some time and we are moving closer to getting this equipment and getting it deployed,” said McCarthy. “While the Commissioner is not for, and he has been very clear, arming officers with high powered rifles and having them walking the streets. However, our officers will now have more firepower for when incidents like the one in East Boston happen. Hopefully they will not have to be used but they will be available if need be.”
McCarthy added that every officer will receive ballistic shields or ‘blankets’ as well as ballistic helmets that are capable of stopping high powered, high velocity rounds like the ones Kirk Figueroa used to take down Cintolo and Morris.
“These will be made available to all officers,” said McCarthy.