Merced Police Add Firepower To Arsenal
The Merced, Calif., Police Department recently selected the M-16A1 semiautomatic rifle as standard gear in patrol vehicles, said Cmdr. Tom Martin, supervisor of the South Station; the 12-gauge shotgun is already part of standard vehicular equipment.
Martin said the guns will be provided to patrol officers, detectives, and Special Operations Unit officers. The guns are highly accurate, fire a .223-caliber bullet at a range of 500 feet to 700 feet, and are equipped with 20- or 30- round magazines. The department obtained the rifles from military surplus at a price of $100 each and $30 for refurbishing costs, resulting in a total of about $2,100 for 16 units.
Sgt. Matt Williams, who is certified to give training on the M-16A1, said the department’s rifles can only be used in semiautomatic mode, unlike the regular version, which can also be used as an automatic rifle. This means officers must squeeze the trigger each time they fire a bullet, instead of a continuous stream of bullets if the trigger is kept pushed.
Field supervisors may also keep SAGEs in their vehicles; the weapons discharge polyurethane pellets that immobilize people and can only be used by department supervisors, said Martin.
Presently, all officers in Merced carry department-issued Heckler & Koch .45-caliber autoloader handguns and Tasers for immobilizing suspects. “Over the last number of years, nationwide, law enforcement has been faced with criminals who are armed with assault rifles,” Martin noted.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Modesto Bee (12/03/04) P. B3; De la Cruz, Mike.