Kirk Blouin, town manager and former public safety director, said Friday that the purchase enables the police department to take advantage of the latest technology.
The upgrade is not related to security during President Donald Trump’s visits to his Mar-a-Lago Club during the winter season, Blouin said.
“They are for use in tactical situations, hostage situations and sometimes in the protection of dignitaries, especially now with active-shooter situations becoming more prevalent across the country,” Blouin said. “It’s a necessary piece of technology — a tool we need in our tool belt to effectively mitigate a situation.”The rifles give specially trained officers the ability to shoot with high precision at long-range targets, hundreds of yards away if necessary, should there be a situation where they can’t move in closer, he said.
The Secret Service and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office provide security during visits to Mar-a-Lago by the president and high-profile dignitaries such as foreign heads of state. The Palm Beach Police Department plays a supporting role, focusing on planning, traffic management and crowd control when there are public demonstrations.
When upgrades occur, the old rifles are traded in toward the value of the new ones or are destroyed, but they are never sold to the public as surplus property, Blouin said.
“We are not preparing for Armageddon here,” he said. “But if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
The rifles weren’t the only upgrade this summer. The council also approved $125,662 to buy three 2019 Ford Interceptor police-rated utility vehicles, which were paid for through the town’s equipment replacement program.