Senator Blunt has met with several law enforcement officials to talk about militarization of local police, an issue raised after Ferguson police used an armored vehicle early in last month’s demonstrations. The public reaction to that action has triggered inquiries into the transfer of equipment through the Department of Homeland Security and from the Military Surplus Program.
Blunt has met with law enforcement representatives in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Jefferson City, and St. Louis County. He says they’ve told him much of the Homeland Security equipment has been used to improve communications. He calls the vehicles such as those used in Ferguson “defensive vehicles” He says he’s heard stories about the vehicles being used in “last resort” circumstances, such as the incident in Ferguson where one was used “where a vehicle went in and got a civilian that had been shot by another civilian in a location that there was no way you’d ever have gotten an ambulance to in that particular environment.”
He says the equipment is usually nearby and can be made available in reasonable time.
Blunt says tactical decisions made in the heat of a moment might be re-evaluated later and made differently in similar circumstances; he’s heard the St. Louis County police chief make that observation.
He returns to Washington thinking programs providing the equipment need to be examined to see if the money involved is being spent well. He says the issue of whether local law enforcement needs that equipment should remain and the local level.