Local law enforcement react to President Obama’s ban on military equipment

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. -- Some area departments believed their officers' safety could be at risk after President Obama put a ban on the sale of some military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

DeSoto County just got an armored vehicle last year.

WREG spoke with some local sheriff and police chiefs who were not very happy about the president's decision.

"If I can get my hands on a piece of equipment that will make sure my guys make it home at night, I'm going to get everything I possibly can," Desoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco said.

His office just got the MRAP, the mine-resistant armored protection truck, eight months ago.

It sat in a garage behind the DeSoto County Sheriff's Narcotics division in Hernando.

The office got it for only 5% of the $650,000 price tag.

It would likely be one of the last such purchases made by any local agency across the country.

"It's an Army vehicle that's used in combat," Rasco explained. "What we use it for is our SWAT team when they make SWAT calls."

In light of the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama announced a ban on some military equipment for departments.

The ban would include armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bayonets, ammunition .50-caliber or higher and some camouflage uniforms.

Departments don't have to hand over what they have now, but they would not be getting any more.

"It's unfortunate that we can't get any more, but we're glad we got that piece of equipment," Olive Branch Police Chief Don Gammage said. "The sheriffs department has always offered that equipment for anyone in the county."

The president said the move was in an effort to restore trust between departments and communities, but some were still on the fence.

"I feel like as long as the sheriffs departments have the right tools to do their jobs and are responsible, then that's what they need to do," James Smith, who worked in Hernando said.

As for Sheriff Rasco, he said the president was walking a thin line with this new ban and not the thin blue one.

"We've got to just kick back and do the best with what we have," he said.

Departments would also be required to get approval from their cities' mayors and city council before receiving things like tactical vehicles, explosives and riot gear.

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