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Police officers in Trinidad want AR-15 rifles for their patrol cars — and they want to use marijuana tax revenue generated in the former coal hub to buy them.

The Trinidad Chronicle-News reports that the police chief believes the department is in need of the semi-automatic rifles to complement the shotguns that officers already carry in patrol cars.

But not everyone on the city council is thrilled about the idea.

Chronicle-News reporter Steve Block was at the mid-April council work session. He writes:

“Council member Anthony Mattie spent many years in law enforcement, and said that, while he was opposed to the use of AR-15s by officers at one time, now that opinion had changed.”


“Council member Carlos Lopez expressed some reservations about putting the AR-15 in the hands of local police, saying the country was becoming more like a police state, with the federal government sending surplus weapons to local law enforcement agencies.”

Trinidad’s city manager reportedly approves of SWAT members having the guns, but not necessarily giving them out to every patrol car, and mayor Phil Rico said they would have to be handed out safely if the council does approve them.

The meeting was only a work session, so no official votes were taken.

Las Animas County has been the subject of some pretty surprising marijuana-related news in the past year. Trinidad now has 21 marijuana shops, which sell nearly $300 in cannabis products for every resident in the county each month.

The Gazette’s Tom Roeder broke down the numbers earlier this year. He writes that there was $2.8 million made through marijuana taxes  in 2017 alone. The town, close to the New Mexico border, is raking in “15 times the clip of Boulder County.”

In previous years, the city has spent that revenue on a fire truck, replaced outdated water lines, fixed historic brick roads and even bought vacant buildings to restore.

It’s unclear how many AR-15 guns the police department feels is necessary. A more in-depth discussion is expected at the council’s next meeting.

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