ASU Police Department returns military weaponry

The ASU Police Department headquarters is seen in Tempe on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The department is under criticism for acquiring 70 M-16 assault rifles through a Pentagon surplus program. (Photo by Ben Moffat) The ASU Police Department headquarters is seen in Tempe on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The department is under criticism for acquiring 70 M-16 assault rifles through a Pentagon surplus program. (Photo by Ben Moffat)

The ASU Police Department was issued military weaponry last year, but they announced Monday they have decided to return the weapons.

About a year and a half ago, ASU Police Department was issued 70 semi-automatic M-16 rifles. ASU Police Department Spokesperson Sgt. Daniel Macias said the guns were given to them by the Arizona Department of Public safety.

“The officers were not certified so the guns were not even in use,” Macias said. “They were pending officer training.”

He said the ASU Police Department has decided to return those weapons, because many of the rifles were out of date and needed repairs.

Macias said there is a procedure they must go through to return the weapons and said they are going to replace these older rifles with standard newer rifles.

The ASU Police Department headquarters is seen in Tempe on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The department is under criticism for acquiring 70 M-16 assault rifles through a Pentagon surplus program. (Photo by Ben Moffat) The ASU Police Department headquarters is seen in Tempe on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The department is under criticism for acquiring 70 M-16 assault rifles through a Pentagon surplus program. (Photo by Ben Moffat)

He also said incidents, such as the one in Ferguson, Missouri, have concerned people that getting these weapons is a way of militarization of the police. He said the weapons are for the safety and protection of the ASU students. An example of the weapons being used would be if officers had to confront an active shooter on campus.

Many students were unaware the police department was issued these weapons, and when they found out, they had a few concerns.

Interdisciplinary studies sophomore Matthew Weeman said he had no idea that the ASU police were issued these weapons.

“I mean, you sort of feel a little safer, but then again at the same time, you feel more threatened, because those are some serious weapons they have,” he said.

Weeman said he understands the police not only have to protect the students here at ASU but have to protect themselves as well.

Industrial design sophomore Eran Vautour said he was aware the police were given these weapons last year but only believed it to be a rumor. He said he doesn’t approve of the University police department having these weapons.

“Honestly, it makes me more afraid of police, which is a sad statement to have to make," he said. "I believe that overaggressive actions already take place against students at ASU. Giving police these weapons not only gives them more power than they have proved themselves capable of handling but in addition creates an unsettling atmosphere for ASU students.”

Vautour said he has witnessed a multitude of interactions between college students and police, in which police have been extremely manipulative and overaggressive against students posing no threat of harm towards the officer or anyone around them.

“We live in a society that is literally afraid of the faction dedicated towards creating a safe and comfortable society to live in — that is a dismal fact,” he said.

 

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article imprecisely stated how many weapons the ASU Police Department was returning. This version has been updated with the exact number.

Reach the reporter at william.a.parker@asu.edu

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