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Athens police not yet militarized

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After news coverage of the police-involved shooting in Ferguson, MO., police brutality and militarization has been called into question across America; however, the Athens Police Department remains separate from this controversy, according to APD Chief Tom Pyle.

For the most part, police in Athens have access to standard service weapons. Typically on patrol, an officer may carry a combination of a taser, pepper spray, a handgun, handcuffs, baton and a radio.

When it comes to higher powered weapons, some police cruisers are equipped with shotguns and even fewer have AR-15’s, which is a standard issue semi-automatic rifle typically issued to armed forces. But APD does not keep heavier machinery, such as armored vehicles.

“Our department doesn’t have armored vehicles. Other departments have them in surrounding areas that we can call in if needed,” Pyle said.

Congress enacted a program, 1033, with the National Defense Authorization Act allowing “military trickle down” to help allocate unused items, such as office supplies and uniforms, along with weapons and armored vehicles.

According to TIME Magazine, over the last 17 years, $4.3 billion worth of equipment has been distributed to the nation’s police forces.

News outlets such as the The New York Times and TIME Magazine claim that during the Obama administration 200,000 ammunition magazines, thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment, hundreds of silencers, and larger equipment such as armored cars and aircrafts are handed down to departments that choose to participate in program 1033.

Very little of this equipment has actually reached the Athens Police Department, and in fact, the department has not received any “military trickle down,” according to APD Chief Tom Pyle.

With all the happenings on a college campus, things can sometimes get out of hand, but Pyle said the department is also without a SWAT team.

Palmer Fest of 2012 was one of those times when extra equipment had to be called in. An Ohio State Highway Patrol Special Response Vehicle, along with officers armed in riot gear, responded to a request to help regain control of the crowd.

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