I-Team looks at military equipment going to local counties

BARRY COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Newschannel Three I-Team is on waste watch, examining military equipment going to West Michigan counties.

We found several local sheriff's offices now have vehicles called "mine resistant, ambush protected vehicles" or "MRAPS." They are ten feet high, 20 feet long, weighing 19 tons.

The Barry County Sheriff's Office received one from the federal government at the start of the summer.

"It's getting ready for the active shooter type calls, you never know when they're going to hit, nobody can predict the next one," says Sheriff Dar Leaf.

The sheriff's office didn't have to pay anything but the vehicle is worth $412,000 dollars. The department has also received other military equipment including rifles and five grenade launchers. We asked Sheriff Dar Leaf if he thinks he'll ever need that kind of firepower.

"We have to prepare for these type of incidents that people don't like talking about, and hopefully it will never ever happen in our area, if it does we can put an awful lot of people on the back of that thing and take them out to safety."

Sheriff leaf says the MRAP tank doesn't have any weapons on it and would be used mostly to transport people or deputies.

We also found that, according to online databases, the federal government has given MRAPS to several West Michigan counties including Allegan, Berrien, and Muskegon, along with Barry. All of them worth around $500,000 dollars. Calhoun County also received armored vehicles.

Events in Ferguson, Missouri have started a national discussion about whether smaller law enforcement agencies need to be militarized, but Sheriff Leaf doesn't see a problem with having the equipment, just in case.

"I have a duty to make sure my men make it home at night," says Leaf.

This week the Sheriff of Saginaw County said he's giving back the county's MRAP vehicle because he says he doesn't need it as a civilian police force and says it cost too much to maintain.