Militarized Zone? - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Militarized Zone?

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Since 2006, Wichita County has received almost $3.5 million worth of military equipment from the Pentagon that was distributed to state and local law enforcement under the Department of Defense 1033 Program. These items can range from computers and generators to assault rifles and mine resistant vehicles, like the Wichita County tank. Wichita County Sheriff David Duke says that this equipment comes in handy when its needed. 


"I firmly believe that these are lifesaving pieces of equipment for law enforcement and for public safety, so that's why we have this type of equipment," Duke said.


The data, originally gathered by the New York Times and Github does not represent all of the military style gear that law enforcement agencies have. They can also buy equipment with their own money or with federal grants. However, Wichita County has received more armored and mine resistant vehicles from the government since 2006 than Dallas County.  


"You have some of our lakes, even in oil fields and the open range area that we have in the western part of our county along the Red River," Duke explained, "you just can't drive patrol cars through there."


Duke also says that despite the events in Ferguson, Missouri, the militarization of police is not something that is a new phenomenon.


"It does not mean that all of a sudden that this is a threat to society," Duke said. "These vehicles and equipment is being used all across America to safeguard the public and officers and maintain order in situations like the one in Missouri."


I asked Texomans their opinions on this issue, and one man said that while local law enforcement shouldn't abuse their power, they need military equipment like assault rifles to stay ahead of criminals.


Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6