(Deseret News) Helmeted officers in camouflage and sharpshooters with automatic weapons atop a heavily armored vehicle descended on a small Missouri town this week to quell demonstrations against the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.
By some accounts, the show of force — including the firing of tear gas and rubber bullets — more resembled an invading army than local law enforcement. And it triggered a nationwide debate about the "militarization" of police departments.
Police agencies in Utah have some of the same weapons and vehicles as those on display in Ferguson. Some were acquired from the Department of Defense program that has transferred billions of dollars' worth of surplus military equipment to state and local agencies, which has now come under sharp criticism.
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Police departments are acquiring major battlefield equipment that emboldens officials to strong-arm those they should be protecting. "Police State USA: How Orwell's Nightmare is Becoming our Reality" (Autographed) chronicles how we got to this point.
"I don't deny that the look and feel can seem militarized. It's a style that we have embraced," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.