Peoria Public Radio Staff
Thu August 21, 2014
Military style police equipment sparks discussion
The Pentagon has been supplying local law enforcement agencies with its surplus equipment for years, but most of the time, that equipment is out of sight. Once police in Ferguson pulled out their armored vehicles and military-grade weapons, public debate was sparked.
Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican, says the protest situation in Ferguson has him reevaluating the need for militarized police departments.
"I'm not sure I want an MRAP driving through my neighborhood."
That stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, the kind of armored vehicles troops are using now in the Middle East. Still, Schock's fellow Republican, Congressman Rodney Davis, says the program distributes equipment with positive outcomes, like humvees that rescue stranded drivers in bad weather.
"There's good uses for this equipment, there are uses that help everyday citizens and I think we need to be cautious not to take that opportunity away, too."
Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also says Congress shouldn't take an all-or-nothing approach as it debates changing the program.