BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The union that represents Buffalo police officers wants patrol officers to have expanded access to AR-15s.
The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association feels the additional fire power is needed.
"I think patrol rifles is definitely an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront," says Buffalo PBA President Kevin Kennedy.
Kennedy supports recent changes made to how officers patrol the city's streets, but he says two-person car crews and additional training, while critical, don't go far enough. Kennedy thinks patrol rifles should be instituted throughout the country.
"I know that's a touchy subject, but as you've seen with the incident in Dallas and the incident in Baton Rouge, they were patrol officers encountered persons with higher firepower than they had at their hip," says Kennedy.
The PBA says Buffalo police officers currently carry .40 caliber handguns. It would like officers to have .45 caliber handguns.
The union also wants officers to be able to carry AR-15s if they so choose. The PBA wants four-hundred for the department, but would take as many as it could get. AR-15s cost around $1,000 each. PBA Vice President John Evans tells us they’re versatile with little recoil.
The Buffalo Police commissioner was not made available for an interview Monday, but a spokesperson for the department told us Buffalo police patrol officers are assigned shotguns.
The PBA counters by saying shotguns don't offer long range capabilities.
This push for the AR-15 is not new. The PBA asked for them in March, but Commissioner Derenda said they were not necessary.
"At this point, I'm not inclined to issue every patrol officer an AR-15 military assault rifle,” said Derenda. “Again, it's like I said I believe we are covered in our current strategy and operation plans, and I just don't believe it’s necessary at this point."
Victoria Ross with the WNY Peace Center told us Monday night that she is very much against the idea of arming officers with the AR-15.
"I think we have too many guns and too many weapons on both sides of the equation already, so that is just an invitation for more problems. We believe in peace and justice and someone just said earlier just now we get what we expect a lot of times and the more we ratchet up the violence and get ready for the onslaught, the more it comes," said Ross.
John Evans with the PBA says that if officers get AR-15s, they'd coordinate that training with their regular firearm training. He also says Common Council President Darius Pridgen told him he would revisit the issue.