Machine Gun Turrets and Tanks in Small Town America

What can small town police departments do to keep their constituents safer – get to know residents? Encourage kids to stay in school? Buy super-expensive tanks and military gear to prepare for World War Three? Although the first two might work, it looks like police departments are relying on the latter – and footing taxpayers with the bill.

There’s a program run through the Justice Department called the 1033 Program, which secures high-end military equipment for local police departments. You know, just in case.

The Daily has profiled some of the excesses of this program in a slideshow. Some of the highlights include Richland County, SC, where the sheriff obtained a giant tank with a machine gun turret that is strong enough to pierce armored vehicles, called “The Peacemaker.” Tampa, FL recently acquired a 12-ton tank that is described as “virtually unstoppable.” In fact, over 500 “BearCat” tanks have been sold through the program.

This policy is, clearly, completely insane. These tanks and heavy artillery are being bought by local police departments, ostensibly for use against American citizens, which is especially insane because some of these weapons are only made to be used against other tanks. So why is the Justice Department investing in these expensive technologies, to be used in situations they weren’t designed for?

It all points to the militarization of American police departments, a trend that we’ve been seeing increasingly vividly with the violence and abusive force at the Occupy Protests. Indeed, we could see the destruction at the Occupy Wall Street eviction or at Occupy Oakland as the logical extension of setting up police officers as a paramilitary group. It’s time to stop wasting money on these programs that only decrease the security of Americans, and use the savings to actually help people.

Related Stories:

“It Will Not Be Syria, It Will Be Libya”: 20,000 in Tahrir Square

City Council Members Condemn Occupy Wall Street Eviction

Tahrir Square Protestors Support Occupy Oakland

Photo credit: C. G. P. Grey's Flickr stream.

87 comments

Lynne S.
Lynne S6 years ago

Boys and their toys. Especially things that go "bang".

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Donna S.
Donna Smallwood6 years ago

It's OK for us to stop believing in "business as usual". The fairy tale is over and a new day is coming. Humanity is having to wake up and grow up in order to survive. We can no longer depend on the GOOD OLE BOYS to manage our lives; they have consistently proven to be self-serving so we have to take matters into our own hands. Let's face it, the tanks and militarized police units serve two purposes: 1) control of the masses and 2) keeping their overseas factories busy! The ONLY way we will survive the dawning of this new era is to put our shoulders together as a human family and support and take care of each other. Remember, you are only as safe as your neighbors' mental health, so in that sense, we are of necessity being forced to once again, move back together and become our brother's keeper. So much of the devastation in this country is that we no longer have each other and can no longer think for ourselves. We've delegated that as well as the responsibility for our actions and choices to Washington; the GOOD OLE BOYS' CLUB. Now that we see how much they care about us as humans, we should probably come up with a better plan for our lives. It's OK for us to grow up and get REAL about this situation before it kills many more than it already has. There are no MAJOR differences between the continents and countries.... CHAOS, RELIGION and CORPORATE GREED rule the day. Citizens are just blood for the machine!

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John Coleman
John Coleman6 years ago

This alleged "story" must have been from a slow news day for the Care2Care author since the "Peacekeeper" story is from Reason based on a article date September 1, 2008. It was in Reason that had a problem with the vehicle since it might be used against "consensual activity" like drug dealing! This is a dumb article!

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Mike Chrissie
Mike Chrissie6 years ago

John, you nailed it, you will be called a troll for setting the facts stright

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Mike Chrissie
Mike Chrissie6 years ago

John, you nailed it

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Damon M.
Damon Mills6 years ago

Oops, ran out of room and didn't know it. To finish previous post..........

I am not a tea-partier, they tend to be a little too religiously oriented for my taste. However, when they protested they did so with respect, did not illegally camp in public parks, did not trash restaurants, or antagonize the police. The Occupy movement could have accomplished much more if they had been mature enough to realize that those who disagree with them were not the “enemy” – just Americans with a different point of view.

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Damon M.
Damon Mills6 years ago

It is amazing how polarized the world has become. It seems every comment to this story is extreme on one side or the other.

As for me, I don't mind if the local police department gets an armored personnel carrier or even a tank. If, at some point in the distant future, some other nation decides to invade then it would be a tactical benefit to have such equipment available in as many locations as possible. If our big, scary government (sarcasm there) decides to violate the constitution then all this equipment will be used AGAINST them.

No matter what the police force has, if they were all somehow brainwashed by that secret government brainwashing plasma ray and turned against the populace then the populace would simply mow them down and take that arsenal for themselves. That is why our forefathers gave us the right to bear arms.

The author of this story, and many of the comments, point to the police response to the Occupy Movement as some sort of proof of the “MAN” trying to take over and oppress the population. However, many of the small business owners whose establishments were trashed by the occupiers and the residents whose lives were severely disrupted for weeks on end would say that the police were protecting their rights from the abuses of the Occupy Movement.

I am not a tea-partier, they tend to be a little too religiously oriented for my taste. However, when they protested they did so with respect, did not illegally camp in public parks, did not

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John Coleman
John Coleman6 years ago

Whenever “progressives” have lost the argument then it is misdirection and bashing those that have pointed out the misinformation. BTW, “progressives”, if you want to “wander in the weeds” on this subject and bring up points not directly related to the story here, then let’s discuss a real misuse of military assets including real tanks and combat engineer vehicles which was the Clinton administration’s assault on the Branch Davidians at Waco to support a political agenda against gun ownership and alleged “right wing” fundamentalist Christian sects. Strange I never saw the same critique of that operation or the motivation behind that or how much it was botched!

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John Coleman
John Coleman6 years ago

Luvenia V: The real brainwashing that takes place are stories like this one and many other Care2Care stories that are short on actual facts and long on left wing agenda misinformation. Judging from the responses to most of these stories the Care2Care authors are really pitching their hype to the already “progressive” brainwashed crowd, but I can’t continue to let this tripe go without posting some reality rebuttal in response. Nothing in this story or the other two that I looked at on the web backs up any assertion of a “tank” or a “machine gun turret”! The picture here is a memorial, one other story has a stock picture of a M113 APC in a military setting (mounting a .50 cal not in a “turret”), and the third is a stock photo of a Striker also in a military setting. Nowhere was there any real info on what this PD acquired or for what purpose other than the BearCat mention (not a "tank" so no picture). All appear to be alleged “news” to stoke an anti-military, anti-police agenda without informing anyone of any real information on an issue (police with armored vehicles) that has been around since Prohibition for what has usually been a legitimate police usage.

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Mike Chrissie
Mike Chrissie6 years ago

you forget who's in charge, fascism you say, well obama where are you.

Guess you try and blame Bush seeing nothing can be Obama's fault.

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