A police department in Northern California is coming under fire for allowing children to handle SWAT weapons at a local festival.
The Press Democrat reports that photos show the Santa Rosa police department allowing kids to pick up and aim fully automatic assault rifles and riot guns that were lying on a table near a SWAT vehicle.
“What are young people learning from this?” asked Attila Nagy, who took the photos and then distributed them to concerned citizens and lawmakers. “No matter how you justify it, no matter how you twist it, it's the promotion of violence.”
Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre said she was “alarmed and devastated” by the photos, and questioned why police would allow it.
However the department is defending itself, saying it is all part of an ongoing community outreach program
"We encourage our cops to get out of the car and interact with the community,” Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said, adding “Whether you like it or not, our police have guns,”