Marion County Receives 3 Military Humvees and 25 M-16 Rifles - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Marion County Receives 3 Military Humvees and 25 M-16 Rifles

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Over the last decade Tennessee Law Enforcement Agencies have received more than $41,000 military surplus items that are worth more than $121 Million dollars.

The Military equipment comes from the Federal Government's Department of Defense Excess Property Program. Local officials said the program has helped law enforcement officers working with a small budget, achieve the equipment necessary to combat crime. In light of civil- unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, not everyone is happy about the recent request for more fire power for some law enforcement agencies in Marion County.

"Makes me think they are planning something more than to protect and serve," said Jasper Resident Josh Totherow.

Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett showed Channel 3 just a few of the 25 military style M-16 rifles the department obtained through the federal government excess property program.

"I'm not going to just hand them out not all officers will get them just a select few," said Sheriff Burnett.

In addition to the rifles, officials said the department received 3 unarmed military style Humvee vehicles for weather related rescues. .

"We have a lot of mountain areas and bad weather and it would be better for officers to drive them in those situations than a new patrol car or suv that we have," said Detective Matt Blansett. "We didn't ask for these weapons to be toting on our side when we pull somebody over for a speeding ticket... they are weapons to be used for bad situations when they occur and hopefully they wont occur but if they do we definitely need them."

The Sheriff's Department had to apply for the military vehicles and rifles but didn't have to pay much more than shipping.

"A cop car would be plenty enough to write tickets or do whatever they need," said Totherow.

City leaders told Channel 3 Jasper Officers are expecting at least 6 M-16 rifles to arrive. The Department houses only 9 officers including the chief.

Law enforcement officials said the military equipment will be used to protect the city and it's officers.

"Now a days there's a lot of people out there with more fire power than we have and I want my officers to be prepared," said Sheriff Burnett.

"You know people just don't realize how violent it is out in the public sometimes... not every day but there are incidents and it is a dangerous job."

Sheriff Bernett said his deputies will not be issued any rifles until they've received proper training. City leaders in Jasper said the only other military item the police department is possibly looking to apply for are night vision goggles. Both department's agree the program has saved an estimated $15-20 thousand dollars each.

The Jasper Police Department isn't the only nearby law enforcement agency to receive military equipment through the DOD program.

Officials with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office have said the department has received various types of handguns, rifles and armored vehicles over the years. Just recently, the Bradley County Sheriff's Department got a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle that is still being processed for department use.

Officials said Franklin County also gained 40 guns and other pieces through the program.

Reports show over the past nine years, Tennessee has moved from 47th in the nation to the top 10 in acquiring military surplus.

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