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Militarization creep: Texas cops get army tanks

Military equipment continues to creep into the hands of municipal police forces


Natasha Lennard
September 30, 2013 11:47PM (UTC)

In the now well-established pattern of military technology and equipment creeping eventually into standard domestic law enforcement, Texas police are receiving military-grade tanks from the Department of Defense's surplus supplies.

The Dallas Observer reported that the Dallas Couty sheriff’s office obtained a 19-ton, diesel-operated military tank with bullet-proof doors and tires, designed by Navistar Defense. Just in case Texas cops need defense from ballistic arms fire, mine blasts, IEDs and the like. A number of domestic police forces own BearCat tanks; 16,000-pound armored leviathans.

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In his ongoing reporting on the creeping militarization of U.S. police forces, HuffPo's Radley Balko sees a corollary between the hyping of the "war on drugs" in recent decades, the rise of "tough on crime" political posturing and police militarization. He told Vice in an interview that there's little political will to contain the increasing militarization of police, the sees Robocop-style SWAT teams with army vehicles increasingly become the norm for domestic policing:

For about a generation, politicians from both parties were tripping over themselves to see who could come up with the tougher anti-crime policies. We're finally seeing some push-back on issues like incarceration, the drug war, and over-criminalization. But not on police. No politician wants to look anti-cop. Conservatives want to look tough on crime. Liberals love to throw money at police departments. So for now, rolling back police militarization is still a non-starter in Congress and state legislatures.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Army Bearcat Department Of Defense Militarization Militaryd Police Tanks Texas Texas Police

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