The sheriff of Pulaski County, Indiana, said his department's mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle is necessary, because "the United States of America has become a war zone."
"It's more intimidating than a Dodge," Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer told the Indianapolis Star.
Pulaski County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire the vehicles since 2010 from the Department of Homeland Security, the Star reported. More police departments across the country are turning to these surpluses to protect police officers, while also saving money.
"The United States of America has become a war zone," Sheriff Gayer said. "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."
Pulaski County, home to 13,124 people, has obtained several trucks, a snow camouflage parka, a "ballistic blanket" and night vision sniper scopes, the paper reported.
"We are a rural law enforcement agency and not readily served by larger agencies ... to handle our emergency needs," Sheriff Gayer wrote in his application for the MRAP. "Therefore, we are building our department with surplus equipment to handle the needs of our citizens and their safety."
A number of departments maintain that military surplus goods would only be used in extreme circumstances. Critics argue that increased militarization could lead police officers to further distrust citizens and view them as the enemy.
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