Police Departments See Influx of War Gear

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Los Angeles County Sheriff's SWAT team members standing on a armored car during a massive manhunt for a suspect who attempted to kill two detectives on June 25, 2013.
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In Wisconsin, when Neenah City Councilman Bill Pollnow learned that the police department of a neighboring town had just received a 9-foot-tall, 30-ton military tank—a leftover from America's "long season of war"—he shot an email to Neenah's police department.

He was surprised by the reply he got. A similar combat vehicle was coming to Neenah in just a week.

Neenah is not the only American town to suddenly get M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, machine guns and more.  Since 2006, state and local law enforcement officials have acquired 432 mine-resistant ambush protected armored vehicles (MARPs), more than 93,000 machine guns, and nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines.

What does a town like Neenah, with its lower-than-average crime rates, need a mine-resistant tank for?

Neenah City Councilman Bill Pollnow joins The Takeaway to explain.

The Takeaway also contacted Neenah Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson; he was unavailable for an interview but commented by email:

"I've been a cop for 30 years. I've seen a lot of bad things Americans did to Americans. I recognize that there are some pretty nasty deeds going on in big cities, in small towns, and at rural homesteads. So for 30 years, I've been wearing a ballistic vest any time I am on patrol. In those 30 years, I have never needed it. Not once.

"But even though it's awkward and itchy and uncomfortable and hot, I wear it anyway. Just in case. Does a quiet midwestern city of 25,000 people need a military armored vehicle? I hope not. I pray not.

"But I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Especially, when you consider the price.

"My only desire in all of this is to be reasonable and keep people safe. I believe that's my job."