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Sheriff Addresses Law Enforcement Militarization

The department’s armored BEAR.
Paul Wellman (file)

Sheriff Bill Brown spoke last Saturday afternoon at an ACLU-hosted discussion on the militarization of law-enforcement agencies, acknowledging the similarities between the military and the police but noting “very distinct differences” between the two. “We are in a defensive versus an offensive role,” Brown said, adding that “the rules of engagement are much stricter.” When asked if his department ​— ​which has received numerous pieces of surplus military equipment through the Department of Defense ​— ​has received any drones, Brown said no but that the Sheriff’s Office has been “experimenting” with, but hasn’t used operationally, one that is owned (and could be bought in a “hobby shop,” Brown said) by a deputy. The department also has a MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected) vehicle, but it hasn’t been deployed and serves as a backup to the department’s armored BEAR (pictured). An itemized list of the department’s surplus equipment spans 58 pages; most of the pieces are helicopter- and medical-related.

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