CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The national debate over police spending dominated the Coral Springs City Commission meeting on Wednesday during which elected officials had to decide on spending nearly $30,000 to buy officers new weapons and training equipment.

After a string of speakers urged commissioners not to buy the materials, commissioners unanimously approved the use of federal money to make purchases -- $14,778 for new handguns, holsters and less-lethal shotguns, and $14,039 for equipment to convert guns from shooting bullets to “paintball”-type shots for officer training.

Coral Springs Police Chief Clyde Parry explained the weapons and equipment are meant for officer safety.

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The purchase of new equipment for the police department is usually not a contentious issue in Coral Springs, but after weeks of street protests in the city and across the nation over the killing of George Floyd and other Black people, more than a dozen residents and others outside the city called on commissioners to vote against the spending.

During the meeting’s public comment period, they demanded the city redirect the spending on mental health, after-school programs, and other initiatives intended to help lower-income people in Coral Springs.

Many of their concerns were over the police using the money to buy rubber bullets.

Parry said the money would not be spent on that, stressing the funds will go to purchasing equipment so officers have adequate weapons and supplies to keep themselves safe and well-trained.

Parry pointed out, for instance, that the less-lethal shotguns are for firing “beanbags” intended to disarm people looking to harm police or themselves. He said there was an incident in the city when a man had a knife to his throat and the “beanbag” fired at him knocked the knife out of his hand.

And the equipment to convert guns, known as “simunition conversion kits,” Parry said, will be used strictly for officer training and won’t leave the gun range.

In supporting the funding, Commissioner Joshua Simmons said the money isn’t intended for “militarization” of police.

Mayor Scott Brook said the equipment will “make our police safe” and it “will make our citizens safer.”

 

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