Buying ammunition for Dallas Police is typically routine. But in the wake of police reform demonstrations and the use of tear gas on protestors earlier this year, the purchase sparked debate Wednesday.
The current supply contract expires in February so to keep officers supplied, police requested approval of a contract for more than $7 million of lethal and non-lethal ammunition over a five-year period.
Earlier this year after tear gas was used at some demonstrations, Police Chief U. Renee Hall said it would no longer be used on peaceful protestors.
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Councilman Lee Kleinman objected to tear gas supplies included in Wednesday’s request.
“Even a federal judge at one point banned us from using this and I'm just not comfortable using tear gas on our residents. I don't think that's an appropriate use for it,” Kleinman said.
He also opposed the amount of rifle ammunition in the contract.
Chief Hall said police need to be armed with rifles and the SWAT team has other uses for tear gas.
“There are elements in our community that have assault rifles and AK 47’s and they are not afraid to use them on our law enforcement officers,” Hall said. “When it becomes necessary, we need to be able to have these to defend this community, and ourselves.”
Councilman Adam Bazaldua agreed with Kleinman.
“I'm not sure that there is a warrant quite frankly for the demand that is being asked,” Bazaldua said.
Police said around 500 Dallas officers are equipped with rifles and required to undergo monthly training with around 500 shots each.
“So that’s about 3 million rounds of ammunition we go through just to keep our highly trained force intact. And I think that’s a credit to our agency. I think that’s a credit to our city that we have that level of professionalism,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said.
After an hour-long discussion about police equipment and training, the Dallas City Council voted 13 to 2 to approve the ammunition request.
“We want our officers equipped, we want them trained, we want them to have the resources,” Councilman Adam McGough said.
Chief Hall said 99% of the ammunition would be used in training.