A police department in Spokane, Washington has announced that all rifles carried by patrolling officers will now be equipped with suppressors. The Spokane Police Department says the move is a safety precaution to protect officers and civilians from hearing loss.
“It’s nothing more than like the muffler you put on your car,” rangemaster Lt. Rob Boothe told the Spokesman-Review.
The Spokane City Council justified the $115,000 contract required to outfit 181 service rifles with suppressors as a preventative measure to reduce legal costs from worker’s compensation lawsuits.
“I had a couple citizens contact me about why the police are using suppressed rifles,” City Council President Ben Stuckart said. “I thought it was appropriate to get information.” The measure will also protect the city from lawsuits by civilians exposed to the sound of gunfire.
The new suppressors will be purchased from Gemtech, a suppressor manufacturer in Boise, Idaho. They will reduce the volume of the service issued rifles from 152 dB to 134 dB, which is just under the OSHA safety limit of 140 dB.
Law enforcement agencies are not required to pay the $200 tax stamp imposed on civilians by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“We protect our people to the best that we can. At the same time, we need to be cognizant of having the public understand why we would purchase that piece of equipment,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. The Sheriff had considered purchasing suppressors for his deputies, but has held off due to public relations concerns. “Those are serious concerns. Especially in this day and age of things that are going on with the public and law enforcement,” he said.
The city council was more than satisfied by the police departments explanation for the suppressors. “It was expressed to us the intent of using the suppressor was only to protect the officers and the public, not to make others unaware of the weapon,” said Councilwoman Candace Mumm.