Columbus— The U.S. military has given armored vehicles, assault rifles and thousands of other types of surplus military equipment to Ohio law enforcement agencies in recent years, state records showed.
Ohio law enforcement agencies have received nearly 4,900 assault rifles and 36 mine-resistant vehicles since 2006 under a Department of Defense program that provides surplus military-style equipment to local police.
State troopers, sheriff’s departments and city and university police in Ohio have received equipment through the program, according to The Plain Dealer.
Military surplus equipment programs have garnered attention recently in light of violence in Ferguson, Missouri, where the local police department had acquired two armored Humvees and other military gear under such a program.
According to records, Ohio law enforcement agencies also successfully asked the Pentagon for a total of 743 rifles, 683 pistols, and 36 mine-resistant vehicles during the past eight years.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office in Cleveland received more than 30 M16 and M14 rifles between 2006 and 2008, according to state records. Cleveland Metroparks rangers were given 17 assault rifles in 2009 and received a number of flak jackets and night-vision goggles earlier this month.
Columbus police accepted 350 assault rifles under the program, while Toledo police received 142 rifles and two personnel carriers, records showed. Akron police were sent 89 M16s between 2006 and 2008.
Delaware police in central Ohio received a grenade launcher to fire tear gas canisters.
Delaware police spokesman Capt. Adam Moore said the issue of police being issued military equipment is for elected officials to decide.
“A piece of equipment is a piece of equipment. It’s not a philosophy,” he said. “It’s the use of (it) that could be debated.”
Ohio law enforcement agencies also received thousands of items under the program that are not designed for fighting at all, including refrigerators, trucks, clothing, and office furniture.
In April, police in North Kingsville, in Ashtabula County, received two clarinets and other musical instruments, records showed.