Last month, eight M16 semi-automatic rifles were obtained by the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office. The move has raised concerns from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office and questions as to why the DA's office needs the rifles.
The weapons came from a federal program that hands out surplus items from the Department of Defense to local law enforcement agencies. You can click here to see a copy of the agreement between the DoD and the DA's office.
Sheriff Steve Prator says his office should have been notified about the weapons, adding that the DA's office can't even make arrests without his permission.
"In my estimation there is absolutely no need for automatic weapons for someone in the district attorney's office to have. I can not imagine it. They don't have arrest power if I don't commission them," Prator said. "I contend that state law, especially, is very clear that if that happens, the manufacturer or vendor will notify the sheriff and get a letter of approval from the sheriff. That's the law. That was never done."
Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott said the weapons were for his investigators because of the dangerous situations they may face when in the field.
"We need to have our people safe. We need to have them secured and we need to have them armed. But it's the level of armament that's a level of issue," Scott explained.
Prator said DA Investigator Don Ashley was the one who notified the Sheriff's Office about the weapons. Afterwards, he was fired. A source within the courthouse say the dismissal was related to Ashley's revelation about the weapons. Charles Scott said the firing of Don Ashley was not related to his discussion with Sheriff Prator.
"There was good reason that had nothing to do with the weapons," Scott added.
A spokesperson for the Louisiana program that transferred the M16's to the DA's office said the weapons were not purchased, but are instead on loan. Because of that, the notification law did not apply.
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