Williamson County law enforcement benefit from military surplus - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Williamson County law enforcement benefit from military surplus program

MARION, IL (KFVS) - President Obama placed tighter restrictions on a federal program that transfers military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

The program has allowed departments around the Heartland to receive equipment like assault rifles, armored vehicles and even helicopters. Most of the items come at little or no cost to the departments.

The Williamson County Sheriff's office is one of several departments in the Heartland to utilize the program to buy an armored vehicle.

"We use it for special response team and the purpose of it is to protect people inside it from gunfire,” Sheriff Bennie Vick said.

Vick said prior to purchasing the vehicle about a year ago, officers relied on a refurbished ambulance for protection against hardened criminals.

"They can purchase or steal anything they want and they have some high powered weaponry," Vick said.

As for training, Vick said new federal mandates require police get certified training from military members to use military vehicles.

Williamson County bought armored truck for next to nothing through the program.

"That's a half million dollar vehicle. We never would have been able to afford that but we got through the military just for picking it up," Vick said.

Vick said that's a small price to pay to keep officers safe.

"It's not just an intimidation vehicle, it's for safety," he said.

Vick said the items now restricted like grenade launchers and large caliber weapons should not affect departments here.

Departments can still purchase the equipment as long as they do not use federal funds.

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