If terrorists ever target Fargo, N.D., the local police will be ready, says the Center for Investigative Reporting. They have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. “Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” said Carol Archbold, criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There's no terrorism here.”
Fargo, like thousands of other communities in every state, has been on a gear-buying spree with the aid of more than $34 billion in federal government grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The federal grant spending, awarded with little oversight from Washington, has fueled a rapid, broad transformation of police operations in Fargo and in departments across the country. More than ever before, police rely on quasi-military tactics and equipment. No one can say exactly what has been purchased in total across the country or how it's being used, because the federal government doesn’t keep close track.