October 25, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain County law enforcement agencies get military gear from federal program

The Lorain Police Department received a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle through the federal 1033 Program. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The Lorain Police Department received a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle through the federal 1033 Program. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Law enforcement in Lorain County has obtained dozens of guns, seven vehicles and other assorted gear through a federal program that provides military hardware to police agencies across the country.

Among the most recent acquisitions are two Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, commonly known as MRAPs, which were awarded to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and Lorain police earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Defense program, known as the 1033 Program, that provides surplus military gear to law enforcement has come under scrutiny as the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., has dragged on after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police earlier this month. Images of heavily armed and armored police using military vehicles to control civilians have prompted a backlash against what many have called the militarization of police.

“We want our law enforcement to be equipped to take on the bad guys, there’s no doubt about it, but do they need a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle for the streets of Lorain?” asked Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh, who also commands the county’s SWAT Team and Drug Task Force, said the vehicles come in handy in certain situations, such as dealing with standoffs or raids on drug dealers who police expect to be armed.

“We use them in very controlled situation like for standoffs,” Cavanaugh said. “You don’t see them out on road patrol.”

In addition to its MRAP, the Sheriff’s Office has received three armored personnel carriers and a utility truck since 2005, according to a database maintained by the Ohio Law Enforcement Support Office, which administers the 1033 program in the state.

The county’s SWAT Team has also received 16 M16A1 assault rifles and other gear, including an explosive ordnance disposal robot over the past eight years.

Cavanaugh said the robot, for instance, is used more for reconnaissance than bomb disposal.

He also said his office plans to return two of the armored personnel carriers now that the Sheriff’s Office has an MRAP at its disposal.

He also said there needs to be moderation. For instance, he said the Sheriff’s Office turned down additional armor plating for its MRAP that would have made the vehicle impervious to rocket-propelled grenades, something he doesn’t expect deputies to encounter in Lorain County.

The Sheriff’s Office isn’t alone in obtaining weapons under the 1033 program.

Police departments in Avon, Avon Lake, Grafton, Lorain, Oberlin and Vermilion have obtained M16A1 assault rifles in recent years.

Avon Lake Police Chief Duane Streator said the six rifles his department obtained have been modified to downgrade them to semiautomatic rifles. He said the guns are kept in the department’s police cruisers and used only when necessary.

He said the 1033 program provides access to gear the police need but without having to pay for it. But he also said that having that equipment means using it responsibly.

“If you have justified the need to have some of that military equipment, the deployment has to be controlled,” he said.
Oberlin police obtained four M16A1 rifles and a Humvee utility truck under the program, but Lt. Mike McCloskey said his department doesn’t plan to use the vehicle in an offensive way. He said for the most part, the Humvee has been deployed during inclement weather to get to places other vehicles can’t go.

He also said that once a leak in the roof is fixed and it gets a new paint job, Oberlin police will begin using the Humvee in parades and at special events as a public relations tool.

“Obviously kids like to see cool police vehicles,” McCloskey said.

Problems like the leaky Humvee roof aren’t uncommon with the gear that is obtained from the military.

Vermilion police Capt. Mike Reinheimer said his department obtained some night vision goggles, but they’ve never worked right. He said part of the deal is taking equipment in an as-is condition.

For instance, he said that four .45-caliber pistols Vermilion received last year had been sitting on a shelf since the 1970s.
None of those pistols have ever been used by police, and neither have half of the M16A1 rifles the department obtained in 2006, Reinheimer said.

Not every police department in the county has gear from the military.

Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely said his department would like to obtain an MRAP and said he thinks the vehicle would come in handy when dealing with situations where there is an active shooter because the bulletproof armor would provide protection as officers deal with the suspect or evacuate civilians.

Whitely also defended the use of heavily armed and specially trained officers who forcefully enter the homes of some suspects.

“It’s common for civilians to have assault rifles, so when we go out to make an arrest and they have weapons like that, they’re going to outgun us, and it’s very dangerous for the officers,” he said.

Elyria defense attorney Kenneth Lieux said he wonders whether the police aren’t the ones escalating tense situations with an overwhelming show of force.

“Does the local police need an M16? What kind of situation do they expect to be in?” Lieux asked.

The problem, Daniels said, is that when police are given the tools of war, they tend to make use of them and that can be at odds with the concept of community policing.

He said police across the country routinely use military-grade equipment and tactics to storm buildings to serve drug warrants.

“They’ve taken all the worst aspects of the drug war and shot it full of steroids,” Daniels said.

He also said that until Brown’s death in Ferguson, criticism of the militarization of police was minimal.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who oversees a police department that has obtained an MRAP, four M14 rifles and 10 M16A1 rifles under the program, said he doesn’t believe officers in his city are too militarized.

He said the military weapons and tactics are employed only where necessary.

“Do we overuse it? I don’t think we do,” Ritenauer said.

No matter what the equipment, it comes down to how police choose to use it, Reinheimer said.

“We train for the worst, hope for the best and that’s about the only way to do it,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

Military hardware

Military equipment provided to Lorain County law enforcement since 2006 under the federal 1033 Program:

  • Avon Lake police: M16A1 rifles (6)
  • Avon police: M16A1 rifles (5)
  • Grafton police: M16A1 rifles (3)
  • Lorain County Metro Parks: Laptop; cold weather overalls (15); frame-mounted pesticide sprayer; hydration system (16)
  • Lorain County Sheriff’s Office: Armored personnel carriers (3); battery charger; chemi-luminescent lights (200); M16A1 rifles (16); mine-resistant vehicle; explosive ordnance disposal robot; utility truck
  • Lorain police: M14 rifles (4); M16A1 rifles (10); mine-resistant vehicle
  • Oberlin police: M16A1 rifles (4); utility truck
  • Vermilion police: .45-caliber pistols (4); M14 rifles (2); M16A1 rifles (6); night vision goggles (2)

SOURCE: Ohio Law Enforcement Support Office


  • Seeker

    The Police States of America.

  • todd

    God bless the police. They do a job I would NEVER do but EXPECT done.

    • bpbatista

      Indeed. But let’s remember that they are the POLICE — not an occupying army.

      • Phil Blank

        Do an image search for swat, a bunch of snot nosed young men with the license and will to kill.

  • bpbatista

    Has there been any time in the past 50 years when the Lorain PD needed an armored personnel carrier or mine resistant vehicle?

    This is why we need the Second Amendment.

  • shadow

    They will use this AGAINST the people they are to ‘serve and protect’. You want the right to assemble? Sorry. These pigs will use this military crap against us….this is why we all need guns to protect US from THEM. THEY are the government WE fear. It starts at the local level and goes up.

    • Phil Blank

      I said something along those lines here when the first MRAP article was posted, but they didn’t like my idead of ghem using it to drive it through homes, so yhey deleted it.

    • Jason M. Schmidt

      What a scary world you live in. Try coming out of the bomb shelter once in a while to get some air and hear the birds chirp.

      • Starryeyes

        and what a world of denial you live. Go play with your pet unicorn.

        • Jason M. Schmidt

          I expected a mature and well-thought-out response. Thanks for not disappointing.

          • Starryeyes

            Glad I could oblige………mr tell someone to get out of the bomb shelter………..(sorry I have to stoop to your level though)

          • Jason M. Schmidt

            There are paranoid people in this world who do live in bomb shelters and missile silos. That is a fact.

          • Guest

            Wow what an original thought looks like you stole that from another comment.

          • Smira

            what
            a joke. you calling someone out for immaturity after your comment.
            LMAO

          • Jason M. Schmidt

            Glad you were amused.

          • Smira

            Wow what an original thought looks like you stole that from another comment. Do you have any???

          • Jason M. Schmidt

            Looking through your past comments, it seems as though you have an extensive history of mindless comments. I’d suggest you start posting more substance so that we can all benefit from your wealth of underutilized knowledge.

          • Smira

            At least mine are original………

      • jz

        You have to admit that there is some cause for concern when we see more and more in the news what really does look like soldiers in Iraq moving in then a police department handling a typical incident. There have been some real overkill incidents for situations which could be better handled by police surrounding a house or building rather than then 20-30 cops dressed like soldiers using tanks for simple domestic calls and/or serving a drug warrant over a simple sale of a small amount of coke or weed. They went to a house the other morning to arrest a guy on a relatively routine drug warrant arrest and you would think they were in front of Pablo Escobars mansion in Columbia.

        • Jason M. Schmidt

          I appreciate your cordial response. I suppose my viewpoint stems from my definition of overkill. There certainly is a point of being excessive and militarized, but a few assault rifles and an armored vehicle is not that. I believe the police should go into any situation being prepared for the worst. Using your example of serving a drug warrant. Maybe the tank was excessive, but I don’t know the situation. If the expected outcome should be an arrest with no injuries to the suspect or police, then I believe the police should use whatever equipment or gear they believe they need to get that result. A drug warrant or domestic call may seem routine to people, but there are plenty of cops who have died during routine calls or traffic stops.

          • jz

            This is true. And we want the police to never be out manned etc. At least the perception is growing when I see kids being led out of a house from a hostage/domestic and then see at least 20-25 cops looking like paratroopers going in to get Bin laden. We don,t have crystal balls but sometimes the “overkill” can make a situation worse. Then you see this a-hole Brit cutting off the head of a journalist and think how many of that ilk are back in Britain? Certainly we gotta be ready if the time ever comes.

  • Razorback Twou

    If they got it they will find a way to use it, if they don’t have it then they won’t find a need for it. Let them do without, like everybody else in the county has had to do. A waste of money in my option. Most likely get 3 miles to the gallon.

  • ken m

    mr lieux should look up and study more bad guys with guns..i would suggest starting with”mark Essex” the howard Johnson sniper….read what happened,how many got shot and killed…….this happened 40 plus years ago….many since have had a sniper rifle,gone to the highest point..”a roof top” and started picking off whom ever…..this is the prime reason police departments need as much high tech gear as possible…you don t want to wait until it happens….then have to wait until a department miles away to send help……of course, then again,if you have folks like mr lieux, maybe you can put him in the police car,send him to the incident,and let him calm down the person shooting at others………

    • Phil Blank

      Better go back and read it yourself!

      Wasn’t a “sniper rifle”, it was a common Semi-auto Ruger 44mag carbine rifle that is the same size as the Ruger 10/22.
      You can still buy them today from any gunshop.

  • alreadyfedup1

    “Feels like Ferguson” ala Obama in Selma.

  • Otter

    The paranoid people have spoken

    • Phil Blank

      Yes!
      And the all have military-vehicles and weapons!

    • Joe Smith

      Paranoid like the Jews of WWII should have been?

      • Otter

        Seriously? Hardly a fair comparison.

        • Smira

          you mean the US will never turn on its own citizens? Learn your history

        • Joe Smith

          Why not? Do you think it started out as a holocaust or do you think it stated out small?
          Remember what ended up killing 45 million people started out as someone running their mouth in a beer hall.

    • Starryeyes

      So do you believe there is no evil in the world and the police will ALWAYS be there to protect you? I am NOT paranoid. I am just not in denial.

      • Otter

        Huh?

        • Starryeyes

          If I have to explain it…………..

          • Otter

            Yes please, it makes no sense to me, in reference to my comment.

          • Starryeyes

            who are you calling paranoid? Gun owners or those whom do not like the militarizing of the police?

          • Otter

            I would be referring to people who think they live in a police state, and are convinced that because they have received some old (probably crap) they will “find a way to us it against us”.

          • Starryeyes

            Unfortunately, we are living in time where the Government is trying to take over more and more control. Think CAFE standards on cars, light bulb, low flow toilets, how many round of ammo you need… What happened to being pro choice?

          • Otter

            Right, I get it, cars are safer (unless you happen to buy something GM) my electric bill is lower, and I no longer flush away an unnecessary amount of water. Oh the horror.

          • Starryeyes

            Florescent bulbs give me migraines why should I be forced to use them??? Why should I be forced to were a seat belt? ( I do any how but is by choice) But it is legal for me to ride my motorcycle without a helmet. ( I wear one but it is MY choice). Why should the government be able to tell me no more than 7 rounds in a magazine (in NY, 10 in CO) Ohio’s limit is 30.

          • Otter

            The speed limit is 65, so why can’t I go 75? I don’t have any children, so why should I pay taxes to support the schools? Why did I have to show my drivers license to buy 6 cans of spray paint? Why are people who don’t recycle charged more on their garbage bills? Why should I care if some local official saw the word “free” and said we’ll take it…much like the people who stand around at Sam’s, listening to someone blabber on, so they can get a free knife, pillow, or what ever other crap they give away.

          • Starryeyes

            you can drive 75 if you get pulled over you will get a ticket

          • Otter

            Same applies to seat belts…..you can bypass the chime/ bong/reminder….(if that’s where you were going next)

          • Jason M. Schmidt

            I’m sorry. Per the comment section rules: no offensive language or common sense. Please edit your comment. Thanks.

          • Otter

            So sorry, how dumb of me. I am going to hide in my basement now, a police car just drove past my house, they may be looking for me. (running down the stairs, looking over my shoulder)

  • Robert Owsiak

    Well it’s because of the second amendment that they need bigger guns. Everyone saw in California years ago what happens when the bad guys have bigger guns then the police. A bunch of incident people die. Everyone complains that they should be able to have what ever gun they want due to the second amendment. So since you can have an assult rifle why would the police not have them?

    • Phil Blank

      Try and buy or own a gun there now.
      Even want to make it illegal for citizens to have bullet proof vests.
      You are a walking target with no means to protect or save your family.

    • Phil Blank

      Don’t leve out thd bad guys also stiched together full body armor out of several bullet proof vests.

    • Phil Blank

      Learn thr differrnce between a full-automatic-fire rifles and civilian sporting arms which ARE NOT full automatic!

    • Starryeyes

      Unless you have a Class III license & tax stamp, you can not own an automatic weapon. Now tell me which gun laws are the criminals going to follow?

    • Seeker

      Assault rifles have been banned by private citizens , a AR-15 is no more a assault weapon than a 30/06 deer rifle .

      • Joe Smith

        30/06 hits a lot harder as a matter of fact

  • GreatRedeemer

    These are tools of war and have no place with a citizen
    supported police department.

    • Pablo Jones

      And some of the criminals have no place in society. If we lived in a perfect society no one would need any weapons. But we don’t.

      • Phil Blank

        Yes, you’re right, there is no Utopia!
        Stop trying to take our guns!

    • Phil Blank

      When I said that last time, they deleted it.

  • http://vocsystems.com MacdaddyOH

    This make’s the national guard irrelevant..don’t it?

    • Phil Blank

      No, of course not.
      Did you know that Kent State wasn’t the only college shooting they done.
      Look it up.

  • Phil Blank

    I looked into this a few weeks back after they brought out the MRAP for a domestic violence case in the area.

    Plenty of articles have been writen about all the military equipment.
    And Lorain County is not the only place this stuff went.
    Every state across the country has gotten used military equipment.

    The Cougar version (one rear window) of the MRAP caused concerns because it can weigh 2 to 5 time that of the Humvee and may collapse bridges, Lorain’s MRAP has more rear windows, its weight is unknown to me.

    then there is fuel and insurance for MRAPS.
    Want one? As of July there are 13,000 available, your tax dollars bought them!

    Searching New Home for 13,000 MRAPs
    http://defense-update.com/20140123_markets_for_mraps.html#.U9GQLq0pC2d

    • Starryeyes

      Did I read that right OSU campus police have one??????

      • Smira

        it appears so

  • Phil Blank

    Here is the thing, this stuff isn’t free!
    Its sold to the departments, not given to them.
    And its sold in an AS-IS condition, no garentee any of it works 8r has problems.
    Lsst I heard, you buy someting AS-IS, there are no returns, no refunds.
    You spend money to fix it, or you junk it.

    • johns62

      in just looking at the 1033 Program website, they use the word ‘ transfer’. when talking about property.
      to me sounds like at no cost

  • Oneday67

    Vermilion PD claims their night vision goggles don’t work. I have to wonder if they tried using them in the dark yet.

  • Jason M. Schmidt

    What exactly is the issue? Receiving an armored vehicle and a few assault rifles doesn’t make the police militarized. Some of you people should spend less time worrying.

  • Adam Rone

    There is ZERO tactical use for an mrap in an active shooter or stand off scenario because it no longer works when you get out to enter the building. It is designed to survive land mines and ambushes with small arms. M16a2, fine whatever. Armored vehicles that were made for a urban war zone are not useful for policing in America. Either the intent is intimidation or they expect to encounter what these vehicles were designed for. Both motives demand the question “why?”.

  • T h Jackson

    Ask the parents of the 20 DEAD 6 and 7 year olds at Sandy Hook if they think we are paranoid or live in a police state. Until it affects you, you will continue to blabber your anti police “oh no the government is going to make us all gunless mindless slaves” crap. The body counts are rising with each attack. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/20-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-u-s-history-fast-facts/

  • newofsl

    Remember a few months ago in North Ridgeville when the police had an armored vehicle in a stay at home Dad’s front yard and 4 police departments showed up too because he yelled at his neighbor and then wouldn’t answer his door for the police? I have never heard what happened to the man after the police arrested him and hauled him away.Does anyone know? If that wasn’t excessive force I don’t know what is! Our polcie departments don’t need all this heavy artillery.Get it back to the military.

  • eformula

    Perhaps they need that equipment to wipe out the towel heads beheading americans!

  • 2Cents

    “Militarizing” the Police? — kind of an oxymoron don’t you think.

    The taxpayers paid for this equipment and in time, it will prove to be wise to have distributed it across this country. Do you think we’re going to need it if there is no conviction in the Big Mike case in MO.?