NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A massive military build-up is underway right here in Tennessee.
Local law enforcement agencies are snatching up huge amounts of weapons — from the Department of Defense — used in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Items include grenade launchers, mine-resistant vehicles and guns that have been deemed as surplus by the Pentagon.
The equipment is cheap or free for local law enforcement agencies to acquire.
The federal program has fueled a debate about the militarization of our police departments.
McMinn County is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It boasts beautiful scenery, but its sheriff’s department can boast something else.
The department received more military surplus guns than any other local department in the state last year.
“We actually reconfigured the whole armory to accommodate all of this,” said Sheriff Joe Guy.
Sheriff Guy oversees 31 officers and investigators, but his department received 161 army rifles and pistols, including 71 M16 rifles and 71 .45-caliber pistols.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “Why does your department need all these guns?”
Sheriff Guy responded, “Well, we don’t need this many. There was a little error in the order.”
The Sheriff said the Army surplus program doubled his initial order, but he hasn’t sent the guns back.