It looks like something right out of a science fiction show, and that's because it is.
The FNH PS 90, a weapon carried by characters on the Sci-Fi Channel Stargate SG-1, is now the assigned patrol rifle for the Addison Police Department.
It's intended to give the 32 officers more firepower to augment their pistols and shotguns, but it's a defensive weapon, not something commonly used by a SWAT team, said Lt. Paul Spencer.
Police departments all over the nation have been arming their patrol officers with rifles and carbines since the North Hollywood shootout of February 1997 when patrol officers were outgunned by two bank robbers with assault rifles and body armor.
Spencer said that scenario played out locally in November 2004 when two men led Richardson and Plano police on a spectacular high-speed chase through southern Collin County. The men riddled police cars with bullets fired from "AK-47-style" rifles.
Many departments have purchased AR-15 patrol rifles, which are similar to weapons used by the U.S. military. Those guns, however, fire .223-caliber rounds with bullets that penetrate their initial targets, but then keep going.
That's a problem in urban settings, like crowded areas with banks and retail shops, where innocent people could get caught in the crossfire, Spencer said. Therefore, he added, Addison decided to acquire a weapon that shoots the 5.7X28mm, which tends to stay in the target. That caliber is available in the futuristic-looking semiautomatic carbine manufactured by Belgium-based Fabrique Nationale.
According to an Addison news release, the gun’s design is compact because part of the 16-inch barrel is placed in its stock, "making it easy to fire with less recoil than the officer’s automatic pistol."
The short barrel allows an officer to fire it from inside a squad car -– unlike a shotgun or standard rifle, Spencer said. He noted that White House-based Secret Service agents have used the same weapon since the late 1990s, but Addison is the first department in the country to provide the weapons to patrol officers.
At about $1,700 apiece they are twice as expensive as the AR-15s available for bulk purchase by police departments, but Addison only needed to buy 12 of them, Spencer said.
"This is not for offense," he said. "We're not making our patrol officers into SWAT cops. But if the bad guys come out shooing from a bank, we want you to defend yourself, and also the citizens who may be back behind your car."
-- Bill Miller