The New York City Department of Correction, which this month eliminated $17 million in job training and social services for detainees due to budget cuts, is buying more than $90,000 in high-powered submachine guns, the Gothamist reports. A purchase order posted last week shows that a South New Jersey gun dealer is sending the city $91,171.50 in MP5 submachine guns. This follows the department’s $100,000 purchase of 10 sniper rifles. The purchase of heavy weapons is not for use inside the jails, as correction officers are forbidden from carrying weapons while working in jail facilities on Rikers Island and elsewhere. A department spokesperson said the guns are needed by a specially trained team for extraordinary situations, not for daily use. Marc Bullaro, a former assistant deputy warden at Rikers, said that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, officers from the department’s Emergency Services Unit were posted on the Queens side of the bridge that leads to Rikers Island and armed with long guns. In addition, officers from that unit sometimes carry long guns when transporting high-security detainees.
Having submachine guns is “totally unnecessary,” Bullaro said. “These weapons will never be used by DOC.” The gun-buying spree comes at the same time the department is ending long-standing contracts with nonprofits that provide detainees with a range of services, including drug relapse prevention and carpentry skills. Those cuts were the result of Mayor Eric Adams ordering city agencies to eliminate 4% in spending. All correction officer recruits are trained in marksmanship and the legal use of lethal force, and officers must take an annual requalification class, according to the department website. The new guns are earmarked for the division that operates the central warehouse, where supplies and equipment are stored, according to the purchase order.