Ohio law enforcement are taking advantage of a government program that gives them access to military surplus guns and equipment. From the looks of it, Ohio state is the last place in the United States that you’d want to commit a crime — those guys are armed to the teeth.
The government program seeks to find loving homes for lost and neglected military gear, so the idea is to let state law enforcement agencies pick up this equipment at an absurdly low price. It started back in the mid ’90s and so far about $33 million worth of gear has gone out already. Ohio alone accounts for one-third of the gear received.
That includes M-16s, mini-tanks, army boots, armored personnel carriers, computers, and even two helicopters! They discovered that the two helicopters might have been a bit overly ambitious. They were too hard to maintain, so they sold off the ‘copters and purchased a new one that would be cheaper to manage, but that hasn’t stopped them from purchasing all kinds of other neat military gear. Ohio has also more than doubled its acquisition of chemical and biological masks, military vehicles, bulletproof vests, helmets, and other equipment.
Ohio’s actions are receiving some mixed responses. On the one hand, it’s great that Ohio law enforcement are getting the gear that they need to catch the bad guys — after all, we don’t want police protecting US citizens on a shoestring budget. On the other hand, though, militarizing the police may be a bit excessive. Sure it’d be nice for the police to have M-16s for SWAT raids, but by-and-large things like armored cars and assault rifles are only needed in rare situations. Nobody wants the police to get haphazard in how freely they use their new toys.
Overall, though, we’d have to say that we’re glad that they’re putting these weapons to good use. The government has really found a clever solutions in selling this gear to police agencies — what good is an M-16 going to do anybody if it’s locked away in some military surplus facility?