Police Chief: No Need For Surplus Military Equipment In Township

Ellis, Roberts

Township Police Chief Lawrence Roberts, right, said his department currently has no need for surplus military equipment.

The Franklin Township Police Department has not seen a need as of yet to apply to the federal government for surplus military equipment, police chief Lawrence Roberts said Aug. 26.

In fact, according to a report published Aug. 24 on NJ.com, no Somerset County town’s police force has surplus military equipment.

The issue of U.S. police departments becoming “militarized” has garnered attention over the past two weeks in light of the methods used by the Ferguson, Mo. police department to respond to protestors after the police killing of an unarmed young black man. The department was criticized for responding to demonstrators with military-grade weapons and equipment.

Franklin has no need for the equipment, Roberts said, because capabilities exist elsewhere.

“The FTPD hasn’t applied for military surplus equipment because at this juncture there has not been a need,” Robert said in an email.  “The towns that are obtaining this equipment are generally utilizing it for one of two purposes: rescue from a natural disaster or tactical. Franklin Township is fortunate in the fact that our fire companies have a great deal of equipment for water rescue.

“Additionally we receive tactical SWAT support from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office’s SWAT Team,” Roberts said. “If we were to apply for and obtain these valuable assets from the US Government, we would be taking them from communities that truly need and benefit from them.”

Roberts did not rule out an application for equipment in the future.

“If in the future we find a need to apply for this surplus equipment, we will address it then,” he wrote.

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