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Tennessee police agencies have $121M in military hardware


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — A mid-state law enforcement expert says the militarization of police departments in Tennessee, and around the country, needs more careful consideration.

Following unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and the local police response, a lot of question are being asked about law enforcement acquiring military grade hardware.

Since 1993, Tennessee agencies have received more than 41,000 military surplus items worth at least $121 million.

Dr. Thomas Jurkanin teaches Criminal Justice at Middle Tennessee State. He says local law enforcement has a hard time saying no to Uncle Sam.

“If money and equipment are available, departments are going to take it; a simple fact. So there needs to be a better evaluation up front in terms of what specifically is needed.”

Dr. Jurkanin says some communities might have a legitimate use for military grade hardware. He cites communities where vulnerable nuclear power plants are located as an example. But Jurkanin goes on to say that how a department arms itself is just one of the questions communities should be asking.

“How police recruit, how they train, what protocols they have in place, what kind of relationships they have within the community…all of those need to be considered.”

Over the past nine years, Tennessee has moved from 47th in the nation to the top 10 in acquiring military grade equipment.