Following the tragic shooting of 3 Baton Rogue police officers at the end of July, responding officers could be seen patrolling the Baton Rogue area with M16A1’s. For those of you who are familiar with the M16A1, you know that this is a somewhat antiquated rifle.
If you are not familiar with this rifle (and I would be truly surprised if you aren’t), it would be helpful to know that it took the place of the M16 in 1969 and became the United State’s military’s standard rifle. It is similar to the civilian M16 (or AR 15). Clearly, the M16A1 is an older weapon. This begs the question, why are Baton Rogue police patrolling the streets with such an out-of-date weapon?
Baton Rogue Police Patrol with M16A1 Rifles
It would not be unheard of to think that the police would have access to more current and updated weapons. The Baton Rogue police department had recently acquired these M16A1 models (and other rifles) through the 1033 program which is why they could be seen wielding said long guns in public locations.
The 1033 program distributes old military supplies to small and medium sized police departments that may not have the funding to get more supplies. Through this program, police departments can receive weapons, clothing, ammunition, medical supplies, flashlights, and more. Some of the donated items are new, but many have been used by the United State military. When police departments receive donated items through the 1033 program, they do not have to pay for the items. Instead, they just pay for the cost of shipping the items as well as the cost to store them. When law enforcement agencies use the items donated through the 1033 program, they must document each weapon or items intended use. Then, they must maintain documentation on the items in the event that they need to be audited. Typically, participating police departments have extremely limited funding.
This is the case for the Baton Rogue police department. Due to their limited funding, they received weapons and other supplies through the 1033 program. Though the M16A1 rifles here are not as advanced as most newer Police AR15 models, they still function effectively when necessary. The Baton Rogue police department received numerous M16A1’s through the 1033 program. The department has also received Bushmaster16” rifles as part of the donation program. Like Baton Rogue’s department, many other police departments throughout the United States that participate in the 1033 program have received the same rifles. Though outdated, the M16A1’s still work just as well as they did in the 1960’s when they were introduced. Police departments are allowed to make some modifications to the rifles, but the modifications must be approved since the rifles were acquired through said 1033 program.
Although the M16A1’s used by the Baton Rogue police department are outdated, they still do exactly what the police department needs them to do. They protect law enforcement and innocent civilians alike during a very volatile time in our country. For that, we can be grateful. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the Baton Rogue police department, as well as with police everywhere.
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