As cop training ratchets up, Walsh opposes military gear
Mayor Martin J. Walsh voiced concern yesterday about issuing military-grade equipment to police, even as he backed war-inspired training for Boston cops — a stance that drew fire from a national union leader who said officers need the gear to go with the skills.
“If he says, ‘ Oh yeah, I want to use these tactics,’ that equipment is part and parcel of those tactics,” said Jim Pasco, senior adviser to the president of the national Fraternal Order of Police. “The mayor is suggesting they deploy these tactics, but how? Barehanded? This shows callous disregard for the safety of police officers in Boston.”
The Herald reported yesterday that Boston police want to conduct training for SWAT and Bomb Squad officers to counter terrorist tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting they could be used here.
In a slam on President Trump, Walsh said yesterday he is not worried about Boston cops adopting a military stance, but added, “I’m more concerned about the president using armored vehicles and grenade launchers in police departments around the country than I am about (officers) getting trained.”
Former President Barack Obama in 2015 restricted military surplus items such as grenade launchers and certain armored vehicles from being sold to police departments. In last year’s campaign, Trump said he would rescind that order in response to a Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire.
Trump has yet to rescind the order, but even if he does, BPD indicated it won’t seek out that equipment.
“The Boston Police Department will continue to utilize and rely on our community policing techniques that have a proven track record for success. We do not see a need for this type of equipment,” said BPD spokesman Lt. Detective Michael McCarthy.
Pasco said grenade launchers can be used for tear gas and armored vehicles can keep both officers and residents safe in terrorist situations.
“It may look threatening to the people of the ACLU and the mayor of Boston, but it looks pretty good to a police officer about to get his ass shot off,” Pasco said.