ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The American Civil Liberties Union wants to know what kind of military weaponry and tactics are being turned over to local police by the Department of Defense and Homeland Security.
The ACLU feels the surplus equipment, things like flash-bang grenades, shock cuffs, and tracking devices that are being handed down, are leading to more aggressive policing, especially in poor neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color.
John Chasnoff with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri describes an incident that happened in Michigan. “A S.W.A.T. team threw flash-bang grenades into a house then, when the S.W.A.T. team rushed in, they got confused and ended up killing a young girl who was sleeping on a couch.”
The ACLU has made a public records request for information from major city police departments across the U.S., including St. Louis City and St. Louis County. They also want to find out what kind of equipment is being turned over to the Missouri National Guard.
“We do know that in 2011, a half-billion dollars of surplus military equipment went to police departments,” Chasnoff said. “We have concerns that the lines between the two [police and military] is starting to blur.” He argues that the trend is eroding civil liberties.