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Recently there have been a spate of reports documenting the trend of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security outfitting America’s local police departments with military equipment such as bomb proof vehicles, body armour, and machine guns.
In Indiana, Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer told reporters that “The United States of America has become a war zone.” The Sheriff has received much media attention lately following his department’s acquisition of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle via what has clearly become a militarization program emanating out of the Pentagon, with the approval of the federal government.
“It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.” Sheriff Gayer noted regarding the MRAP.
Just exactly why Pulaski County needs to intimidate anyone is left unexplained. As noted in the Indianapolis Star report, Pulaski County is a farming community with just 13,124 residents. In 2012, the County experienced only 11 incidents of theft, and just 17 property crimes. There was 1 murder, however it is unlikely that a mine resistant vehicle would have prevented this, nor is it clear why the other equipment purchased under Sheriff Gayer would be required.
Quite clearly Sheriff Gayer believes that he is engaged in some kind of war with his own citizens, or other American citizens coming into his county. Indeed, in the Indianapolis suburbs, officers said they needed a mine-resistant vehicle to protect against a possible attack by veterans returning from war.
“You have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build I.E.D.’s and to defeat law enforcement techniques,” Sgt. Dan Downing of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department told the local Fox affiliate, referring to improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs.
Is the same attitude and belief held by other law enforcement departments across the nation?
The figures suggest it is. The NY Times notes that “Since 2006, the police in six states have received magazines that carry 100 rounds of M-16 ammunition, allowing officers to fire continuously for three times longer than normal. Twenty-two states obtained equipment to detect buried land mines.”
If this isn’t a clear indication of the buildup of a militarized police state then what exactly is?