Tanks in the Police Force

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Increasingly US police department are acquiring armored vehicles and military style tans for domestic operations

There are many laws stating the rules and regulations of military equipment. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 states that the use of military for domestic law enforcement is prohibited. Due to this act and civil unrest in the 60s police department nationwide began to  we came up with SWAT, special weapons and tactics teams. However, in 1981 Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which amended the Posse Comitatus by directing the military to give local, state, and federal law enforcement access to military equipment, research, and training for use.

Today, in local police departments all over the country, the armored tank is making its way into the ranks. In Roanoke, Virginia the police department is using a 20,000-pound bulletproof tank to enhance the department. The cost of one tank is approximately $218,000. Another case in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is the Special Emergency Response Team, sporting a new Lenco BearCat, which is a camouflage colored Humvee-styled tank. The BearCat was purchased around a year and a half ago costing $226,224.

The most common reason for stating the use of the military tanks in law departments is because violence against police officers has increased, and therefore the tank is used as protection of the men and women performing their duties to help serve our communities.  However, the Uniform Crime Report, which is a database the FBI uses to track the number of law enforcement killed and assaulted each year, reveals that this statement is false. The UCR states that the number of law enforcement killed or assaulted has actually been decreasing since 2001. On average 50 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed, and the highest was 70 in 2001.

Others have argued that we need the tanks incase of another terrorist attack or natural disaster, yet no terrorist attacks have been deterred by tanks on the streets. Many people are concerned that the SWAT teams actually “escalate provocation, which results in senseless violence in what would otherwise be a routine, nonviolent police procedure.


Article Title: Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force

Source: Alternet, September 29, 2011

Author: Rania Khalek



Student Researcher: Marie Sweet-, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator: Suzel Bozada-Deas, Sonoma State University