War Gear Flows to Police Departments

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A military-style armored personnel carrier, top, that the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida bought off a contractor. Credit Jacob Langston

NEENAH, Wis. — For NYTimesMatt Apuzzo reports: Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.

The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.

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Kevin Wilkinson, the police chief of Neenah, Wis., said having a vehicle built for combat would help protect his officers. Credit Darren Hauck for The New York Times

During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. Read the rest of this entry »