The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday July 7th

Really, ALE?: ALE must justify its case for equipping of?cers with assault ri?es or abandon the program

North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agents have the right to be armed, but not with assault rifles. Currently, every agent is equipped with one of these weapons.

Some ALE agents have already shown that they are inept at handling the firearms.

The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported last week that two of these assault rifles have been stolen, and there has been at least one accidental shooting.

This raises serious concerns about the workings of the agency and the decision to arm its agents with these weapons.

ALE is part of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and is responsible for enforcing state laws on the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, among other duties.

But ALE agents are rarely involved in situations in which deadly force is required.

And the cost of the assault rifles is substantial.

The state issued assault rifles at a price of $1,495 each. ALE purchased the rifles using money made from federal seizures involving alcohol, drugs and illegal gambling, the N&O reports.

Although tax dollars weren’t used to purchase the assault rifles, it doesn’t justify arming ALE officers with these dangerous weapons.

About a week after it was reported that all ALE officers were equipped with assault rifles and that two had disappeared, Bill Chandler stepped down as director of ALE.

Gov. Bev Perdue has recently selected Madison County Sheriff John Ledford to head up the program.

As Ledford transitions into his new position, he needs to revaluate the need to equip ALE officers with assault rifles.

If he decides to continue using these weapons, he must publicly justify his decision and beef up safety measures to prevent any further thefts or accidents.

But we’d prefer that ALE officers are not armed with combat weaponry.

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