Military vehicles, equipment becoming a common addition to local police departments

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. - In the last eight years, the Pentagon has given hundreds of military vehicles to law enforcement. That includes departments around the metro, in Olathe, Independence, Overland Park and Clay County.

More local police departments are getting the large military vehicles called Mine Resistant Ambush Protection, or a MRAP.

Most recently, MRAPs have been used in Ferguson, Mo., and some people are questioning why.

Lieutenant William Akin with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department said the military trucks serve a specific purpose. “This is the greatest asset we have. Sure, we can have the tactical equipment that we wear on our persons, but when we're able to transport multiple people all at once to one location, and able to mitigate the scenario, this is a huge asset for us,” Akin said.

Some lawmakers, citizens and activists worry the trucks are doing more harm than good.

Doug Bonney, the Chief Counsel and Legal Director for the ACLU of Kansas argues the equipment actually makes people want to fight. “It just serves no just purpose and what it does is scare the public. It inspires violence from otherwise peaceful protestors.”

As more soldiers return home from war, MRAPs will, too. It’s a military surplus that will continue to be used on a local level.

"Have an open mind. Consider the reasons why we're using it. We're not going to be using it to employ at regular traffic stops or anything like that. It’s more for active shooter scenarios, hostage situations,” Akin said.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Department has not put its MRAP to use yet. It is making modifications to it, including new paint and adding lights and sirens, so the public can identify it as a police vehicle.

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