WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- Civil rights activists say the move to arm District of Columbia Police Department patrol officers with semiautomatic weapons is going overboard.
Officers will be given AR-15 rifles this summer as a way to combat dangerous criminals on the streets, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
It is reported 352 officers completed training programs to handle the weapons, which have not been used in street patrols until now.
"We want to be prepared. I want officers to have what they need to be safe," Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.
Critics argue the weapons only increase the threat of danger on the street and are unnecessary.
"Against a backdrop of danger and harm that could result from high-powered weaponry, it doesn't seem to make sense. I wonder why at a time when we're trying to get guns off the street, we're putting more guns on the street," said Johnny Barnes, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area.