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Monday, July 28, 2014

Special Report: The Militarization of Local Police

LITTLE ROCK, AR - There's a trend that is sweeping the nation, including Arkansas. More and more police departments are aquiring military grade weapons and equipment.  

According to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, in the years following the 9/11 attacks more than 34 billion dollars in grants were awarded to various law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism. But the recipients of those military type assets weren't just cities like New York or Washington D.C. They also included small towns, like Oxford, Mississippi and Pine Bluff, Arkansas which aren't exactly high-priority targets for terrorism.  

Law enforcement says the military grade equipment is necessary to protect officers and the community. But critics argue, these more aggressive tools translate into more aggressive policing. But is this type of equipment really necessary or are local police departments becoming more militarized for the wrong reasons?

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, a tidal wave of military surplus equipment is turning up in small towns all across the U.S. including here in Arkansas. Jefferson County just added a six-wheeled, nine-foot tall, 55,000 pound mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP to its arsenal. 

You can visit our Militarized Police State article archive here.

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