Military vehicles in local police departments leads to controver - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Military vehicles in local police departments leads to controversy

Posted: Updated:
As military troops come home from overseas, so does some of their equipment. Now, military vehicles and weapons are going to local police departments creating a national debate. As military troops come home from overseas, so does some of their equipment. Now, military vehicles and weapons are going to local police departments creating a national debate.
PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) -

As military troops come home from overseas, so does some of their equipment.

Now, military vehicles and weapons are going to local police departments creating a national debate.

The Paducah Police Department has a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, or an "MRAP."

"The SWAT team will get on this vehicle when we are going to a high-risk search warrant or a barricaded subject," SWAT Team Assistant Team Leader Chris Baxter said.

If you have seen military footage from Iraq and Afghanistan, this truck may look familiar.

"It's able to take the troops into hostile areas for them military and we are using it here to protect our officers," Captain Mark Roberts said.

Police admit they won't be driving over any land mines, but the truck is an extra layer of protection from gunfire.

"It has no offensive capabilities at all," Roberts said.

"It's extra ballistic protection," SWAT Team Leader Sergeant Joe Hayes said. "It does wonders for our guys."

Some locals say, even so, it doesn't belong in Paducah.

"I would be like ‘Wow, why is the military now invading the city?'" Katrina Lee said.

Amber Duke at the American Civil Liberties Union has similar concerns.

"We are talking about military-grade weapons, weapons of war, that are being used on the streets of our community," Duke said.

"We aren't in a war torn city where there are bombs and uzis and everything going on so it's not needed," Lee said.

That's why the ACLU has launched an investigation into the militarization of local police.

"There's definitely the potential for civil liberties to be eroded," Duke said.

Other local welcome the new equipment.

"The Paducah police department protects us, the military protect the country, and why not?" Peggy Bates said.

Bates said it's a plus that the truck comes to Paducah at no cost to tax-payers. Officers say the price tag on a vehicle like this one would be about a half a million dollars but they got it free of charge through the Defense Logistics Agency.

"Items that the military no longer needs but has deemed to be potentially useful to law enforcement agencies, we are able to obtain at no cost," Captain Roberts said.

The SWAT team has use the truck only once.

"We parked this vehicle between where our team was going to stage at and where the person was. We had information that he had firearms," Baxter said.

Officers say they hope they never have to use it again, but if they do, they'll be glad they have the extra protection.

"I don't want to put someone else in a situation that I wouldn't put myself in and this makes me feel a little better about it, knowing that my guys and my teammates have a little more protection," Baxter said.

The ACLU investigation is ongoing. It's looking into exactly what local police departments are going with the military-style equipment.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow