Military vehicles intended for the terrain and battles of the Middle East are now roaring down the streets of small-town America due to a surplus of military equipment.
According to The Indianapolis Star, police stations across Indiana are now the owners of 55,000 pound, six-wheeled beasts called ”mine resistant ambush protected” vehicles (MRAPs). These monsters house a gunner’s turret, survive IEDs and counter land mines, and now eight Indiana law enforcement agencies can use them to patrol for speeders and break-ins.
“We don’t have a lot of mines in Johnson County,” Sheriff Doug Cox confessed to the Indy Star. Cox explained that though the vehicle will undoubtedly never come across IEDs or land mines — like they were intended to encounter — the vehicles were purchased so his “employees go home safe.”
Indiana sheriff’s departments have acquired nearly 4,400 pieces of military equipments, including computers and high-powered rifles, according to the report. And this influx of military force in sleepy American towns has citizens and even politicians questioning that the militarization of civilian police departments is outrageously aggressive toward local residents.
“Americans should … be concerned unless they want their main streets patrolled in ways that mirror a war zone,” Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson wrote in a USA Today article earlier this year. “We recognize that we’re not in Kansas anymore, but are MRAPs really needed in small-town America?”
According to the Indianapolis Star report, the police agencies acquire the equipment through the federal Defense Logistic Agency and only need to pay for delivery to get their hands on vehicles like MRAPs.
The report explained that there are not many concrete outlines on when to use the military equipment — Johnson County for example has only used their MRAP once since February when a man barricaded himself in a home after a stabbing. But there have already been devastating examples of misusing the battle-grade weapons on civilians. In Georgia last month, a flash grenade was thrown by officers into a house they believed was occupied by drug suspects. But instead of busting drug dealers, the grenade landed in a 19-month-old boy’s playpen, sending him to the hospital in need of skin grafts. (RELATED: Police Conduct Military-Style Raid On House)
“The United States of America has become a war zone,” Sheriff Michael Gayer told The Indianapolis Star. “There’s violence in the workplace, there’s violence in schools and there’s violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that’s what I’m going to do.”