How militarized is your county’s police? More than $45 million in Indiana military supplies

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 25, 2014)--The unrest on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., has the federal government rethinking its military surplus program.  For more than a decade, local police departments across the country have received weapons and supplies from the military.

The idea is to save taxpayers money and give local agencies resources they wouldn't have access to.  Across the state, there is more than $45 million worth of military supplies in the hands of local law enforcement agencies.  Agencies in Marion County have more than $3 million dollars in armored vehicles, high-powered weapons and everyday tactical gear.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office has received three tear gas launchers and dozens of guns, totaling more than $8,000.

"We have to report what is in our inventory quarterly and justify what we are doing with those weapons ," said Lt. Col. Louis Dezelan, Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Dezelan says most of the weapons are out-of-service, and are used for training purposes.

"They were purchased for what was then the SWAT team for the Marion County Sheriff's Office," said Dezelan.

The ACLU recently released a study that highlights the potential dangers of police militarization.

"Our concern is that these tools can easily be misused and there's not sufficient transparency," said Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. ​

President Obama has ordered a review of the program after seeing how police used those military items while policing the streets of Ferguson.

"There's no need for most of these departments to have most of this equipment," said Henegar.

"The material that's available is almost always issued to no cost to the agency," said Dezelan.

Mine-resistant vehicles have been purchased by the following Indiana police departments and sheriff's offices:

  • Fishers Police Department- $689,000
  • Jefferson County Police Department- $658,000
  • Johnson County Sheriff- $733,000
  • Lawrence Police Department- $733,000
  • Morgan County Sheriff- $658,000
  • West Lafayette Police- $658,000
  • Terre Haute Police Department $412,000

Click here to download the full list of military equipment used by law enforcement in your county: Full List of Military Items