As a resident of Warwick that pays attention to the city expenditures, I have been quite vocal on a number of occasions when I have called out what I consider wasteful spending.  Whether my concerns were on budgets, union contracts, or monthly expenditures, prior to making comment I perform my due diligence and refer to historical data of expenditures. 

Why Does The Warwick Police Department Need Weapons Of War?

As a resident of Warwick that pays attention to the city expenditures, I have been quite vocal on a number of occasions when I have called out what I consider wasteful spending.  Whether my concerns were on budgets, union contracts, or monthly expenditures, prior to making comment I perform my due diligence and refer to historical data of expenditures.

The Monday April 1 council finance committee meeting was no different.  For the past few months I have seen some disturbing expenditures get rubber stamped by the Warwick City Council with little to no discussion.  When certain expenditures are questioned by the general public, the finance committee and remainder of the council ignore the concern of the public.

Recent expenditures that have been approved by the city council are concerning to me and should be to the rest of the community.  These expenditures together, in my opinion, present optics which have never been present in the city of Warwick and I question as to why they are necessary.

Recently the mayor of Warwick boasted on his Facebook page that Warwick was rated as the 5th safest city in the northeast.  If that in fact is true, and having lived here my entire life I would tend to agree that we have a pretty safe community, then why are we making purchases that I consider to be militarizing the police department.

In the past few months, the city council has agreed to several requests by the police to make purchases that have been unheard of in the past.  The police requested that the city install Flock cameras which have facial recognition capabilities.  Although every resident that spoke on these cameras made valid points against them, including the esteemed professor Mark Genest of the Naval War College, the council finance committee rubber stamped the expenditure.

The council recently voted to install speed cameras and red-light cameras throughout the city.  Again, the matter seemed to be rubber stamped with little discussion.  For the record, the discussion about speed cameras in school zones is valid, but there should be ample time to discuss the matter.

In the last two months there have been four expenditures which in my opinion show an effort to militarize the police department.  The city recently spent $361,000 on an armored personnel vehicle.  The expenditure was from ARPA monies .  That’s the account from which the city has been burning through while purchasing toys.

Next, the police department came to the finance committee with a request for $780,000 to buy a mobile command center and a Peterbuilt tractor to transport it with.  With brief questions from only 2 council members, the purchase was rubber stamped.

Last month the police department came with a request to buy 40 “patrol rifles”.  These “patrol rifles” are military grade AR-15’s complete with military optics and accessories.  They will now be deployed in every police vehicle on duty.  As part of the justification of the purchase, the police department made the following submission in the request.  “Due to modern policing and the proliferation of weapons in society, this purchase is warranted”.

When it was time for the matter to be heard, it was passed over, was not discussed in public and passed by the council.  The optics of our fine police department making statements to justify military grade weapons in each vehicle in my opinion reflect poorly on this city.  In particular, the police department refers to these items as “patrol rifles”, yet when a member of the public owns one it is referred to as an assault rifle.  Kind of a double standard and clearly a term used to camouflage the purchase.

Last Monday April 1st, the police department came with a request to purchase $250,000 of ammunition.  During the discussion the department was questioned on the inventory on hand, and they itemized the 233,000 rounds of ammunition currently in stock.  The $250,000 purchase amounts to approximately 780,000 rounds of additional ammunition.

When I saw the request on the finance docket, I researched the expenditure to find that during the last 18 years the average annual expenditure for ammunition was $20,600.  Now this year we have an 885% increase in the line item and the department justifies the expenditure stating that now all officers must train and be proficient with military grade AR-15’s.  Why?  What’s worse is that the finance committee chose the highest bidder, which was twice the price of the low bidder.  The reasoning?  The low bidder at ½ the price stated that they could not guarantee the price after February.  The police department went so far as to say that these items could not be purchased locally when in fact, the local gun store could easily fill the outrageous order.  Moreover, the ammunition will be coming from Texas and the residents will be paying the shipping costs.  This clearly was not well thought out, yet rubber stamped by council members with no ability to perform simple required research.

Our police departments and members of the general assembly have testified at nauseum at the state house that AR-15’s are weapons of warand that they should be banned, and the general public should not be able to possess them.  So why now does the City of Warwick, the supposed 5th safest city in the Northeast, feel the need to have weapons of war in every police vehicle?

The police major spoke on how these “patrol rifles” require extensive training for all officers and all police candidates.  The training range is located adjacent to a neighborhood.  On Thursday, a training session was held at the range which is located behind the city sports complex.  The sound was deafening, and it went on for 6 hours.  If you have never heard the sound of an AR-15, I can tell you it is not what you want to hear in your neighborhood.  The sound could be heard a couple of miles away.  I was at an auto repair facility in the same area at the time and inside the building the sound was deafening.  Should neighbors have to be subject to this excessive noise.

Have the police thought about the impact to the residents, the pets, the elderly?  We know now that the noise level will increase due to the “required training” of these “patrol rifles”.  There are many questions that should be asked about these weapons, but the matter was swept under the rug and never discussed in public.

I asked a rhetorical question to the police stating that with all these purchases do they know something that we don’t know?  Are we preparing for war?  Naturally the finance chairman Mr. Howe took the opportunity to mock me for that statement and then completely changed the words of my following questions to the police department representative.

Without hesitation the council passed the purchase 7-2 and now the Warwick Police will have approximately 1 million rounds of ammunition.  The optics of that is not favorable to the City of Warwick.  I have attached the link to the council meeting with the police request and the questions from myself and Councilman Ladoceour.

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