Pubdate: Sun, 16 Aug 2015
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2015 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post


U.S. Combat Vehicles Used in Pot Busts

If you're going to wage war on drugs, you need to be outfitted like a

That seems to be the rationale behind hundreds of police department
requests for armored trucks submitted to the Pentagon between 2012 and
2014. The requests, unearthed in a FOIA request by Mother Jones
magazine, shed light on how the war on drugs has directly contributed
to the militarization of local police forces in recent years.

Police departments can request surplus military gear from the Pentagon
through the Department of Defense's 1033 program, which doles out
hundreds of millions of dollars in military goods to cops each year.
The equipment includes everything from underwear to office equipment
to armored combat vehicles. After Ferguson, Missouri, when images of
local cops training assault rifles on peaceful protesters from atop
armored trucks flooded the airwaves, the program has come under
increasing scrutiny.

The Mother Jones investigation focuses on requests for armored combat
vehicles, arguably the most iconic piece of police military equipment
in the post-Ferguson era. Among the requests Mother Jones obtained,
the most frequently cited rationale for needing an armored vehicle was
drugs: "Fully a quarter of the 465 requests projected using the
vehicles for drug enforcement," the investigation found. By contrast,
police departments rarely cited hostage situations, terrorist attacks
or armed gunmen as rationale for obtaining the trucks.

At least seven departments explicitly cited marijuana in their vehicle
requests, tying pot with methamphetamines for the drug that shows up
most often in the documents. In 2012, Sheriff Tom Bosenko of Shasta
County, California, requested two armored tactical vehicles to be
"used during apprehension of suspects in both marijuana eradications
and during high-risk search warrant service for drug offenders."

In 2013, the sheriff of Sumter County, Florida, requested one armored
vehicle partly because his office had located "several marijuana grows
both indoors and outdoors" in Sumter County. Here's how other
departments wanted to wage war on pot from the gun turret of an
armored truck:

Clearwater County, Idaho, has a population of fewer than 10,000
people. It seems like overkill to keep an armored truck on hand for
the purpose of "marijuana eradication." This is especially true when
you consider that in recent years, the number of marijuana grow sites
discovered in the entire state of Idaho can be counted on one hand.
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MAP posted-by: Matt