Sheriff's Office part of weapons program

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Office ordering 15 assault rifles, has Hummer through program

The Barry County Sheriff's Office in upcoming weeks will receive 15 more AR-15 rifles from a program garnering national attention after protests in Ferguson led to riots.

After Darren Wilson, Ferguson police officer, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, many Ferguson-area residents poured out into the street to protest.

During the days of protests, the city's police officers used weapons gained through the 1033 Program, a Department of Defense program that allows local law enforcement access to surplus military-grade weapons.

The Barry County Sheriff's Office is also a part of the 1033 Program, but on a much smaller scale.

The Barry County Sheriff's Office will receive 15 more AR-15 rifles from the program, said Sheriff Mick Epperly. It also has a surplus Hummer as a tactical vehicle, which the SWAT team used about two weeks ago on a high-risk search warrant in Seligman.

"They drove right to the location, made the arrest, got the dope and everybody came home safely," Epperly said.

The Sheriff's Office also has tear gas canisters, four Tasers and guns that shoot bean bag rounds, he said. If the county experienced something similar to what happened in Ferguson, the Sheriff's Office would ask the Highway Patrol for assistance, along with other agencies in the county.

"I would hope nobody would tear up the town while we were gathering evidence and making sure that investigations were done and done properly," Epperly said.

Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr said her department is not a part of the 1033 Program, and would request assistance from another agency if it a situation deemed it necessary.

President Barack Obama has called for a review of how the Department of Defense is arming local police departments across the country with military gear, vehicles and weapons.

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