WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Like other law enforcers, West Springfield officers carry theusual handguns, handcuffs, pepper spray and ammunition.
Unlike most police departments, this particular police force isalso equipped with 2 grenade launchers, 4 M-14 semi-automaticrifles and one M-21 sniper rifle.
According to the Boston Globe, West Springfield is one of 82Massachusetts police departments that have obtained militarysurplus weapons over the last 15 years as part of a federalprogram.
West Springfield Police Chief Thomas Burke told 22News, thegrenade launchers can be used to fire tear gas in the event of ariot or a standoff.
He says his officers are trained to use them if needed. "Wehaven't had to use this particular type of weapon but we have it incase we did," he said.
Chief Burke added that taxpayers already paid for the guns andit would be a waste to have them destroyed.
For the department, owning these weapons also means not havingto wait for State Police to respond to a major emergency.
The bottom line, he said it's better to be prepared thansorry.
There are a handful of western Massachusetts police departmentsthat have obtained military weapons from this federal program.Westfield has more than 30 rifles. Monson has 6 and Belchertown has4.