Hey Dad, mom took us to a cool event this evening. We got free hot dogs, balloons, and while mom was at the snow cone machine, I dry-fired an AR-15 rifle!
Young children attending a festival in Santa Rosa's South Park neighborhood Saturday were allowed to handle weapons used by the city's SWAT team, causing some to question the appropriateness of such a display at a family event promoting safe communities.
Photos taken at the event show a Santa Rosa police officer talking with a group of youths as a young boy holds a fully-automatic assault rifle while looking through its sniper scope. Another shows a boy perhaps as young as 5 years old grabbing the grip of a riot gun on a table covered with gear beside the city's SWAT command vehicle.
The images, which were circulated by email among a group of concerned citizens, were forwarded to Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre, who said she was “alarmed and devastated” by the display and questioned the judgment shown by police.
Attila Nagy, who snapped the photos and circulated them, said he's in favor of community outreach by the police, but thinks they'd get a better response if they left their military-grade arsenal at home...
But police and event organizers defended the display as a successful community outreach effort that is in line with the department's efforts to demystify law enforcement generally and its SWAT team in particular.
“We encourage our cops to get out of the car and interact with the community,” Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said...
I am surprised that the agency's legal advisor hasn't stopped this unique show-and-tell.
There is a good reason why DARE and other education-based officers do not bring caches of weapons to school as part of their curriculum--it is called liability.
Law enforcement agencies that choose to educate teens about firearms by letting them handle them should, at the least, have clearly gained parental consent.
I don't see parental approval being part of this traveling demonstration.
In addition, I would want to personally verify that the gun was unloaded before allowing my kiddos to take a look.
Because, you know, at least one law enforcement officer was sure he was demonstrating gun safety to students with an unloaded firearm--when, well, ouch.
Have a good weekend everyone.