Society

School Police in U.S. Have $13 Million Worth of Military Gear

| by Michael Allen

The University of Texas recently acquired an armored mine-resistant vehicle from the U.S. Department of Defense even though there are no reports of land mines on any of the school's campuses.

There are more than a dozen University of Texas campuses, which University of Texas police protect (along with local police and federal authorities).

"The turret has been removed, so there's no weapons systems associated with it," University of Texas System Director of Police Michael Heidingsfield told CBS News.

"That vehicle will be used solely in response to an active shooter or armed intruder events, or perhaps in anticipation of a major natural catastrophic event," added Heidingsfield.

According to CBS News, police departments affiliated with 23 K-12 school districts and 102 colleges have gotten more than $13 million worth of military equipment and weapons from the Pentagon.

"The presence of military weaponry on schools undermines public trust, and it undermines public safety, and it's not the right response," Kara Dansky, a lawyer for the ACLU, told CBS News.

San Diego Unified School District Chief of Police Rueben Littlejohn recently decided to return their military gear because opposition to militarized police from citizens.

"We're returning it because some members of the community have expressed the fact that they are uncomfortable with the vehicle that's military by design," Littlejohn told CBS News.

However, the University of Texas plans to keep its militarized force.

"I'm required to protect and serve the University of Texas System," Heidingsfield said. "I ought to employ or have in my repertoire every possible tool. I hope that vehicle never has to leave the warehouse it sits in. But if I don't have it, and then we need it, I've not made the right decision."

Washington's Blog reported in 2011 that statistics from the National Safety Council, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and Centers for Disease Control found that Americans were "8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist."

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How many Americans are actually killed by police?

According to MintPressNews.com, there are no national databases that track the total number of people killed by police, but it is believed that between 500 and 1,000 Americans are killed by law enforcement annually. If those numbers are correct, then about 5,000 Americans have been killed by police since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Sources: CBS News, Washington's Blog, MintPressNews.com (Image Credit: Shane T. McCoy)