Police: Florida Massacre Shows Why Departments Should Have Military Equipment

Monday, June 13th 2016, 3:30 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

It wasn't too long ago police departments across the country were coming under fire for using militarized equipment. But the Canadian County Sheriff's Office says the massacre in Florida highlights the importance of having military surplus equipment.

The Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle used by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office is similar to the armored vehicle used by police in Orlando to bash through the wall of the Pulse Nightclub and end the carnage.

Deputies with the Canadian County Tactical Team, like officers around the country, have body armor and weapons similar to those used by soldiers. The use of such equipment was called into question during protests in Ferguson and Maryland.

In Canadian County, the undersheriff says the equipment is generally used while serving high risk warrants and has a kind of shock-and awe impact on suspects who usually surrender.

"It’s overwhelming force. And we have the element of surprise and typically nothing happens. They surrender and we take them to jail," said Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West.

Police say the equipment is not meant to be used against the public. 

“We're not at war with the public,” said Sgt. Bruce Reynolds Canadian County Sheriff's Office. “But we do need to protect ourselves so that we can provide the protection to the public that we are sworn to do."

West says the equipment could also be used should there be a terrorist attack here.  West says this latest attack in Orlando shows people influenced by terrorism are already in the US, so he encourages people to arm themselves. 

West says often, by the time you call police for help, it's too late.

“When something happens, we're responding. But the fact of the matter is, we're responding. And it's happening. So you've gotta be able to protect yourself."