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West Newton VFW donates assault rifle to police

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
William S. Zirkle | Trib Total Media
West Newton police Chief Gary Indof (second from left) is joined by Mayor Mary Popovich (left) as he accepts a Bushmaster AR15 .223-caliber assault rifle from West Newton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7812 members (center, from left) post Cmdr. Mike Weinhofer, secretary Don McMichael, director Randy Shincovich and director Terry Miller on July 24, 2014.

West Newton police officers have a new weapon to fight crime — a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — thanks to the West Newton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7812.

The VFW post donated the AR-15 assault rifle to the police department at the request of Mayor Mary Popovich, said Michael Weinhofer, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

“We're happy to help,” Weinhoffer said.

According to Weinhofer, the assault rifle cost the VFW $1,118. He gave credit to Pat Donohoe for being “very instrumental” in the procurement of the weapon.

Weinhofer also noted that several years ago, the VFW purchased holsters and .40-caliber guns for the police officers.

Popovich said it was important that the police department be sufficiently armed, especially because West Newton Elementary School is located within the borough. Police also have to deal with the possibility of violent crimes such as home invasions and crimes related to illegal drug use, the mayor said.

“You can't wait for something to happen. The police have to be equal to the criminals,” in terms of weapons they use in fighting crime, Popovich said.

The officers will undergo proper training before they use the rifle, the mayor said.

Popovich said she talked with police Chief Gary Indof about the request she made to the VFW for an assault rifle. Some of the police officers had inquired about the possibility of the borough purchasing an assault rifle, but it was not in the borough's budget, Popovich said.

Indof said he and his officers will be qualified on the new weapon over the next couple of months and will have to be re-qualified annually.

The assault rifle can be placed in a gun rack in the police cruiser, with the gun safety locks attached, Popovich said.

The police already have shotguns available, in addition to their handguns, for fighting crime.

“I feel we (police) have an arsenal that can handle anything. The main objective is to keep your community safe,” Popovich said.

The mayor said she would like to get an additional assault rifle so that both police cruisers can be outfitted with the weapon.

Indof said, “We greatly appreciate this donation from the VFW.”

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jnapsha@tribweb.com or 724-836-5252.

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