We wonders, Precious, aye, we wonders!
The southeast Georgia town of Bloomingdale is tiny but well armed.
Metro Atlanta police departments and sheriff’s offices have armored trucks and personnel carriers in their arsenals.
And the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has in its possession four grenade launchers should there be a need to send canisters of tear gas or bean bags into a volatile situation.
All donated surplus military equipment is available to law enforcement agencies nationwide — large and small.
Some people are upset that there are local law enforcement agencies armed with such weapons of war. But the agencies that got the guns, armored vehicles and grenade launchers say it sends a message to would-be criminals: Officers “are armed to meet any threat,” so criminals should just stay away, said Bloomingdale Police Chief Roy Pike.
From the so-called 1033 program operated by a U.S. Department of Defense unit, Pike’s department of 13 officers acquired a grenade launcher for shooting tear gas, two M14 single-shot semi-automatic rifles and two M16 military-style rifles converted to semi-automatic from automatic.
The Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes individual liberty and limited government, believes the military surplus program should be shut down, said Tim Lynch, director of the criminal justice project.
“When this equipment is given away, police departments start saying, ‘Let’s grab it.’” And once the equipment is in the hands of law enforcement, “we have militarized units going into the community in situations where they aren’t warranted,” Lynch said.
“This is one of the most alarming trends in American policing,” Lynch continued. “We used to call them peace officers and they would treat people ... with more respect and civility. We’re getting away from that. We’re getting into these military tactics and mind-set that the people they (police) come into contact with are the enemy ... and part of this is the militarized units in police departments.”
Candace Garrett Daly, a Cobb County homemaker, is equally unnerved.
“What are we headed to?” Garrett asked. “Whatever it is seems to be already in motion at a breakneck speed. The police are preparing for an enemy. My question is, ‘Who is the enemy?’”