OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Video footage and photos depicting Ferguson, Mo., police acting more like soldiers on the battlefield has catalyzed a national debate over the role of military hardware in local law enforcement. But while Kansas cops have received everything from grenade launchers to mine-resistant armored vehicles, few — if any — have an issue with it.
“I don’t have any drawbacks,” Brian Fenner, Sheridan County sheriff, said of the federal 1033 program. “I think it’s a good program. It helps the counties with low budgets, they can acquire some equipment that’s needed in our rural areas.”
Fenner’s agency benefited from the federal program in a number of ways, its most high-profile acquisition a pair of M-79 grenade launchers the sheriff’s office got in the 1990s. Fenner told Kansas Watchdog the office asked for them strictly as a backup to existing 37-mm tear gas guns, but they’ve never been used.