As military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan has wound down, military armored vehicles have been making their way back home.
Big Horn County and the cities of Cheyenne and Casper have all received heavily armored vehicles designed to protect soldiers from mines and rocket attacks in the Middle East.
“Our new [armored vehicle] can protect us against rifle rounds. Whereas our old [civilian armored vehicle] couldn’t,” says Cheyenne Police Department spokesperson Dan Long.
“It was limited to handgun protection only. We actually had to turn down a request for help from a nearby sheriff's department. They wanted help with a subject that was barricaded in his house with rifle. And we didn’t have the armored vehicle to do that.”
But some are nervous about the transfer of military vehicles into civilian hands.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently released a report on what it called the militarization of civilian police departments. Linda Burt is the Executive Director of the Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union.
“If you build it they will come. If you give police departments military equipment and military style weapons eventually they will start using those weapons on a daily basis.”
The military armored vehicles do come with a financial incentive: Wyoming police departments did not have to pay for them. Still, Dan Long says the Cheyenne Police Department does not plan to use its vehicle very often.