Should police have military-style weapons on the streets of Memphis?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Law enforcement brought out military-style weapons and vehicles in the streets of Ferguson, Mo.

Tanks and other machines are making their way to precincts across the country, but some say they don’t belong on the streets of Memphis. However, emergency responders say they need them because the criminals have better weapons than they do.

Others say these machines cause the violence to escalate.

David Fox, a Vietnam veteran,said, “Ordinary people don’t need to see that.”

These machines are showing up in communities across the country, including here in Memphis.

Bob Nations works with Shelby County Office of Preparedness.

He said, “We can be outgunned on the streets very easily and when you are outgunned, you have very serious consequences.”

Nations is in charge of helping different departments get access to the machines and weapons being stored throughout the region.

In 2006, the Germantown Police Department purchased an armored vehicle called a Bearcat. We asked them how often it’s used, but police couldn’t tell us. The department said it gets used in stand-offs and possible riot situations to protect people and police.

Nations said, “As the dynamics change, you have to tool up.”

But even ex-military members question the need for them on the streets. Fox says he thinks these machines can cause people to panic.

“Normal people don’t need to be coming home from work seeing tanks and things like that,” he said.

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