More Swiss police officers are being issued with military grade assault rifles to counter the threat of terrorist attacks, according to a report on Swiss public television SRF. Several cantons are stocking up their arsenals to better equip officers on the ground, SRF research found.
Terrorist attacks in Paris and other cities in Europe have prompted the ramping up of firepower among some cantonal police forces. Assault rifles increase the effective range from 100 metres for a submachine gun to 300 metres.
Canton Bern police has recently purchased assault rifles, its commander Stefan Blättler confirmed to SRF. “We know that [some criminals] are professionally armed, so it is useful to have long range weapons to match that,” said Blättler, who is also president of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Police Commanders.
Such heavy weapons would not be issued to officers on general patrols but would be kept back for extreme emergencies, he added.
SRF also found evidence of high powered weapons being ordered by police in canton St Gallen whilst canton Aargau already communicated in the spring that it would do the same.
A spokesperson for canton Zurich police said it was not necessary for this force to stock up on assault rifles as its units already possess more firepower than most other cantons.
swissinfo.ch with SRF