The blurred line between civilian law enforcement operations and the military is more apparent than ever at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, which ended this week in Orlando, USA Today reports. Nearly three months after rioting in Ferguson, Mo., prompted a debate on the militarization of police, law enforcement’s appetite for the look and feel of combat has not abated. On display were armored mobile command centers and personnel vehicles, a heavily fortified medical evacuation unit and an armor-plated mobile battering ram. Camouflage is clearly the preferred design for protective vests, shields and other tactical clothing.
While the federal government is re-thinking its providing of surplus equipment to civilian police agencies, largely because of the force displayed in Ferguson, private vendors appear more than happy to fill the void. “Yeah, I know all of this might look intimidating,” said Ted Pinelli of AmChar Wholesale Inc., pointing to a display of assault and sniper rifles arrayed before a billboard depicting masked police officers in full raid gear. “But in today’s society, sometimes, you really need to look intimidating. I don’t know how or why you would dumb it down and make it look pretty just because somebody might be offended.” Among the most imposing pieces of equipment was a fully armored personnel carrier, capable of accommodating up to 12 in the most hostile of environments.