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D.C. Council Member: 'My Staff Won't Let Me Tell You...Police Shouldn't Have Guns

"The mere presence of a gun ... escalates things and it's shown to escalate things."

D.C. Council Member David Grosso

A District of Columbia Council member has feelings about guns that his staff doesn't like him to share much: He doesn't want police to carry them.

“My staff won’t let me tell you that I think we oughta get rid of guns in the city and that police shouldn’t have guns so I’m not gonna tell you that,” D.C. Council Member at large David Grosso said.

D.C. Council Member David Grosso D.C. Council Member David Grosso believes even police shouldn't carry guns in and around the District of Columbia. (Image via Flickr)

Grosso, a registered independent who took office in 2013, brought up the point during a police oversight hearing at Howard University discussing the District's stop-and-frisk policies. D.C. police officers have the authority to frisk an individual if they reasonably believe the person is carrying a concealed weapon or a dangerous tool.

Grosso spoke with TheBlaze about his comments at the police oversight hearing, saying he "is hoping we can begin to think outside the box a little bit and look for alternative ways to approach policing."

"If we're going to talk about community policing, and if we're going to talk about building better relationships in the communities, I think we have to put it on the table that everything is possible," Grosso said.

The council member said D.C. "doesn't have an overwhelming number of situations where the police need to have a gun in order to de-escalate the situation." Grosso also described a situation where if 20 law enforcement officials are on the street, perhaps just two or three have deadly weapons. But that raises the question: Who decides which officers get the guns? And if two or three need them, why wouldn't several?

Grosso seems to think more training could help the force answer those questions.

"I don't think it would be too much to ask if we kinda hit the pause button in a tough situation and bring someone in who is trained even more extensively on how to properly use a handgun - or any gun in the situation - than everyday officers."

As for those "everyday" officers, in 2012 alone, the District had more than 10,000 incidents of robbery, aggravated assault and burglary, as well as 84 homicides.

Grosso's suggestion that police shouldn't carry guns took some in the crowd by surprise, according to the local CBS affiliate. Fellow Council Member Tommy Wells pointed out the idea is not unprecedented.

“In other countries, not every police enforcement officer is armed with a weapon that’s going to kill somebody,” Wells said.

The hearing also addressed the police department’s policies for traffic stops, its use of tactical units, and the recently instituted use of body cameras. More than 160 officers will be able to record their day-to-day duties and while they interact with the public; D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has said she hopes to expand that to the entire department within three years.

When asked whether he thinks guns create violence or people create violent situations, Grosso said "the use of a gun is one thing, the mere presence of a gun is whole 'nother thing, and I think that escalates things and it's shown to escalate things, whenever that's the case."

"My thought would be how do we put police more on equal footing with the residents in a way that they can get along and work through situations more practically, through non-violent tactics," Gross told TheBlaze.

"I just think it's a first step forward. I'm not trying to be naive and say there's not incidences where the use of a weapon is something that is necessary, but I'm trying to think outside the box here and come up with a non-violent community," he said. "A city that doesn't use violence as a tactic for engaging it's residents, I think is a valuable thing."

(H/T: CBS DC)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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