In all of the footage of the riots in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown, you may have noticed that the police there are packing military gear and are driving gigantic armored trucks known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. You may have wondered why.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down to a degree, the military has sent equipment to U.S. police. These items include fatigues, semi-automatic rifles, grenade launchers, armed robots (yes, really) and tanks. The police are driving tanks. One would imagine that if a tank cannon was pointed at a crack house that the police are going to get results. The acceptance of this equipment has reportedly led to some departments having a more military mindset and some have even adopted Navy SEAL tactics in their raids.
According to an article on Motherjones, many police departments do not want the equipment but cannot get rid of it. One problem is that there is nobody to sell a tank to. Another problem is that technically the equipment is still owned by the Pentagon, so the equipment could not be sold even if a buyer was found. Sending the equipment to the police has amounted to a pretty dangerous “low-cost storage solution” for the military.