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Wilson Praises LAPD Acquisition of 600 Army Surplus Assault Rifles

September 17, 1997

Gov. Pete Wilson, whose office recently helped the Los Angeles Police Department acquire 600 U.S. Army surplus M-16s, said Tuesday that the powerful assault rifles will give police a fighting chance against today's heavily armed criminals.

"Never, ever again do I want to see officers from the Los Angeles Police Department outgunned," said Wilson, referring to the Feb. 28 North Hollywood shootout in which a pair of armor-clad bank robbers terrorized officers with assault rifles.

Speaking at a news conference at the Police Academy, Wilson called the notorious shootout "more than a nightmare, it was a wake-up call" for lawmakers to "provide police with the resources they need" to combat increasingly violent criminals.

The rifles, which were officially acquired last week, will be in the field at all times, carried in the trunk of sergeants' cars, according to Police Cmdr. Rick Dinse. Only officers who have received specific training will be able to use the weapons, he added.

The U.S. Defense Department donation was made through the California Counter-Drug Procurement Program, which for the past two years has helped local law enforcement agencies obtain more than $26 million in equipment, including body armor, military helmets and infrared viewers.

As donated, the rifles are fully automatic weapons, but LAPD officials said they will be converted to semiautomatic.

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