Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Sheriff: Don't expect to see Ferguson type military equipment in Lake City

Posted August 22, 2014  10:30 am

Sheriff Hunter, "I'm not looking to buy an MRAP."

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – There were many factors that added to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown. Most agree that a major factor in the violence was the police use of military equipment for crowd control and containment. During last night's meeting of the County 5, your reporter asked Sheriff Hunter about the Columbia County Sheriff's use of similar equipment. While none of The 5 seemed particularly interested, Sheriff Hunter responded after the meeting.

Sheriff Hunter said, "I'm not going to tell you exactly what I've got because I'm not going to have folks publish my capabilities. I have equipment that I use to keep officers safe and maintain safety."

Sheriff Hunter spoke about the incident by the stadium in Lake City where three police officers were shot. "You have barricades and there were military style weapons -- that's all we used."

Sheriff Hunter continued, "I'm not looking at buying an MRAP, a military vehicle to protect occupants against IED's (improvised explosive devices), even though they are surplus and they will pretty much give them to you for a dollar.

What does the Sheriff have?

For hostage and similar situations, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office has a vehicle similar to a Lenco BearCat SWAT vehicle.

Sheriff Hunter said that years ago the agency got some M-16s, some assault rifles.

He also explained the equipment that the SWAT team uses. "They have some military style uniforms for covert operations. Gas masks – we have that type of stuff, but as far as hardware type, I don't have a bunch of M60 machine guns and all that."

The Sheriff continued, "We use personalized methods, but we don't have any over watch (a machine gun) weapons, other than a sniper rifle. The stuff we use is mainly if we have to go in to get a barricaded person out of a house.

Earlier today Sheriff Hunter told the Observer that the Columbia County Sheriff's Office had a similar vehicle to the Lenco BearCat owned by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The Observer asked, "You don't have any military style equipment for crowd control?"

Sheriff Hunter was to the point, "No." 


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