Slideshow: Arms race on America's streets

Since 9/11, the federal government has spent $34 billion helping state and local law enforcement and other agencies prepare for terrorists attacks and other catastrophes. Much of that money has been spent on combat-style equipment and apparel. A 180,000-square-foot showroom of such gear accompanied the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Chicago in October. More than 14,000 law enforcement professionals, exhibitors and others attended. The Center for Investigative Reporting was there to witness the phenomenon. CIR journalists also traveled to Fargo, N.D., one of many cities across the country that indulged in readiness dollars after Sept. 11.

My First TN3 Photo Album

1st album I've built.
  1. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    More than 14,000 people ¬– including a Long Beach, N.Y., police lieutenant (right) – attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago in October. Some 800 booths were set up in a 180,000-square-foot expo hall, where businesses displayed everything from tank-like trucks to assault rifles.

  2. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    This enhanced Sig Sauer M400 tactical rifle is a semi-automatic weapon that can hold up to 30 rounds of ammunition in its magazine and is similar to what combat troops use overseas. Local police in the United States are increasingly arming themselves with greater firepower.

  3. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Tactical vests marketed to police can hold several magazines for both handguns and assault rifles. Police departments frequently purchase apparel like this, which resembles the attire combat troops wear abroad, with federal homeland security grants.

  4. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    This 19,000-pound tactical protector vehicle, the Pit-Bull by Virginia-based Alpine Armoring, is nearly 8 feet tall, more than 7 feet wide, and comes standard with nine gun ports and a V-10 engine.

  5. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    At the police chiefs association convention, Pennsylvania-based Combined Tactical Systems displays its Sting-Ball grenade (right) for indoor or outdoor crowd control. When exploded, the Sting-Ball projects small rubber balls and produces a bright flash and loud bang. It can be thrown or fired from a 12-gauge shotgun.

  6. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    An armored law enforcement vehicle used by the Department of Homeland Security resembles mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks that U.S. troops drive in Iraq.

  7. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    At a booth run by IES Interactive Training, visitors choose between a handgun, shotgun or assault rifle and practice live-action scenarios involving armed criminals who appear on a large simulation screen.

  8. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    The Tiger, an all-terrain combat vehicle by Textron Marine & Land Systems of Louisiana, has a turbo diesel engine and roof hatch. Armored vehicles are a common purchase for local police using federal readiness dollars.

  9. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Fearing more than just airline hijackings, communities bought thousands of gas masks and chemical protective suits with federal grant dollars after 9/11.

  10. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Thermal imaging devices enable authorities to see human forms in low-visibility conditions. This one, the Thug FindIR by Georgia-based Integrated Technology Systems, sells for $6,600 or more.

  11. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Local police in the United States are increasingly swapping out traditional shotguns for assault rifles. Smith & Wesson offers an array of assault rifles to the law enforcement community, like the M&P15 shown at the top.

  12. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Massachusetts-based Lenco Armored Vehicles, which produced this truck, says it has sold more than 300 trucks to law enforcement agencies around the country. Police and sheriff’s departments in Fargo, N.D.; Phoenix; Oxnard, Calif.; and Wilmington, Del., have purchased SWAT trucks with homeland security grants.

  13. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Police increasingly are seeking to bulletproof themselves with equipment and attire containing Kevlar, which can limit gunfire damage. Also sometimes called ballistic gear, local police have used federal homeland security grants to buy protective helmets, shields, vests, leg and arm guards, and even gloves.

  14. ANDREW BECKER/CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Fargo police Capt. Patrick Claus displays the Colt M4 semi-automatic rifle. The Fargo Police Department and many others nationwide have switched from shotguns to military-style assault rifles, like the M4, as standard issue in patrol cars.

  15. ANDREW BECKER/CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Fargo police Capt. Patrick Claus logs in to a patrol car’s computer. The military-style assault rifle in the car is now standard issue for many police departments.

  16. NOLAN WELLS FOR CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Fargo police Capt. Patrick Claus shows a trailer that houses riot shields, helmets and other gear purchased with about $9,000 in federal funds. The equipment has never been used.

  17. ANDREW BECKER/CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Farmer Tim Kozojed, 31, of Hillsboro, N.D., stands in his family’s soybean field after fertilizing part of the 156-acre plot. He says police should be equipped for threats they may face, but is skeptical that North Dakota would be a target.

  18. ANDREW BECKER/CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    Farmer Tim Kozojed, 31, of Hillsboro, N.D., says police should be equipped for threats they may face, but is skeptical that North Dakota would be a target. “I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” he says. “Why would they bother?”

  19. ANDREW BECKER/CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

    The U.S. Homeland Security Department has spent $34 billion to help state and local law enforcement and other agencies prepare for terrorist attacks and other catastrophes. Police around the country have used such funds to buy military-style equipment, like the SWAT truck pictured here, since 9/11.

Related:
With federal money, police stockpile high-tech, combat-ready gear
Interactive: How much has your state spent on local homeland security?
Timeline: Flashpoints in urban violence

Like our content? Help us do more.

Support Us

Leave a Comment

via Twitter