Wagoner County Sheriff: 'Using Military Equipment Isn't About Becoming Military'
WAGONER COUNTY, Oklahoma - With the fallout from Ferguson, President Barack Obama is using an executive order to create a task force to look for ways to build trust between police and the communities they serve.
The president met at the White House Monday with members of his cabinet and civil rights, community and religious leaders as well as members of law enforcement.
Obama proposed spending more than $250 million on more police training as well as body cameras for 50,000 officers across the country.
That executive order could also standardize how military gear is re-purposed for local law enforcement agencies to use. A new study found that there is a lack of consistency in how that gear is handed out.
Now the administration is proposing possible restrictions on what departments can get and what kind of training may be required.
Wagoner County Sheriff, Bob Colbert, said he wants military gear for his department and hopes this doesn't hurt their chances of getting it. He also said there are a lot of misconceptions as to why law enforcement wants it.
Troop carriers and Humvees are vehicles the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office could never afford to buy new, but once used by the military the prices plummet, making them a real possibility.
"We've been trying for a couple years to get these Humvee vehicles after the huge snow storm here a few years ago," Colbert said.
He said it's not about trying to become the military; it's about enhancing the job they're already doing.
"The agencies I know, it's all about search and rescue, serving warrants and stuff," Colbert said. "It's all about helping people, being able to get to people in floods. We have a lot of flooding in Wagoner County where we could use vehicles like that."
The sheriff said it's a better option than the alternative.
"The other option is to leave them in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Syrian Rebels take over them, and now we're fighting people in our own vehicles. So I kind of look at it like, would you rather have your police driving them or people shooting at our troops," Colbert said.
He said he doesn't mind the idea of regulation; in fact, he supports it, in order to make sure the items don't end up in the wrong hands.
He also wants people to understand how the tools are used in battle and at home.
"Again, I didn't see one tank in Ferguson, but I've hear a thousand reports of tanks rolling into Ferguson. So I think people need to be educated on what these vehicles are that law enforcement are using," Colbert said.
He agreed with the president's idea to put more body cameras on law enforcement officers. He said his office is already testing out two body cameras and would love to a federal grand so all of his deputies could wear them.