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School police departments across the US have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine-resistant armoured vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles.
At least 26 school districts have participated in the Pentagon’s surplus program, which is not new but has come under scrutiny after police responded to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, with teargas, armour-clad military trucks and riot gear.
Amid that increased criticism, several school districts have said they will give some of the equipment back but others plan to keep it. Nearly two dozen education and civil liberties groups have sent a letter to the Pentagon and the justice and education departments urging a stop to transfers of military weapons to school police.
I understand the need for emergency equipment in the case of violent attacks at schools, but there is only so much a police department should be militarised. Armoured vehicles, M16s, grenade launchers??? This stuff is used in warzones, not school districts.