Children gather around a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in the Khoshi district, Logar province, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2012. Wyoming police departments have recently acquired similar vehicles for use in law enforcement. (Public domain photograph from defenseimagery.mil)

Since 1997, law enforcement agencies in Wyoming have acquired $5.7 million in military gear through the Department of Defense 1033 Program.

That’s according to a recent release of national 1033 data that makes available all of Wyoming’s acquisitions in the embeddable chart below. The chart was created by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization devoted to criminal justice reporting.

Over the past year, the 1033 program has faced criticism, particularly after the appearance of armored patrol vehicles in the police response to protests in Ferguson, MO. Critics across the political spectrum argue such equipment contributes to the militarization of police forces, and the potential escalation of conflicts. Police use of military equipment has come under the scrutiny of President Obama and a Senate committee.

Wyoming law enforcement’s new military gear

The most notable items on Wyoming’s list of military equipment are four Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles — also known as MRAPs. These vehicles were designed to withstand improvised explosive devices and saw extensive use during the Iraq war. With the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, large numbers of MRAPs were shipped back to the United States and distributed at no cost to local law enforcement agencies, except for fuel and ongoing maintenance expenses.

As reported by the Casper Star-Tribune, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office acquired a $733,000 mine resistant vehicle and $130,000 armored truck. Cheyenne picked up two mine resistant vehicles, while a tactical response team in the Big Horn Basin also got one.

Campbell County received a tracked personnel carrier worth $244,000. A number of counties acquired utility trucks worth more than $100,000.

Many Wyoming police departments took advantage of the program to acquire rifles, and a few received .45 caliber automatic pistols.

The Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington prison got a grenade launcher, one of several brought to the county.

Law enforcement officers in Wyoming have said they could use the MRAP vehicles to respond to live-shooter situations, or potentially rescue people stranded by floods. The vehicle in Natrona County can carry 12 passengers.

“(If) it saves one life, it’s worth all the money we spend on it,” Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness told the Northern Wyoming Daily News.

No one can predict if or when such equipment will be mobilized. Wyoming has one of the ten lowest rates of violent crime in the country. Yet Wyoming has seen a number of large scale armed riots over the course of its history, most of which took place during the territorial period in the 1800s. More recently Wyoming has experienced school attacks, armed bank robberies, and the hijacking of a bulldozer and a locomotive.

Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. What a crock of leftist infested rot. It appears that Wyoming Government must think its citizens are the enemy. This is amoral and unethical use of tax money. It takes power away from individuals and gives it to the state by shear intimidation.
    Sell this crap to some third world dictatorship. And what is the up keep for having an arsenal that rivals the wyo national guard? And when do you plan to use it against what is left of the Dwindling wyoming populace?

  2. Anyone want to explain why so many departments got “Mine Resisted vehicles” are they expecting IED attacks from the wildlife??

  3. I only have two things to say about this:
    What on earth is Wyoming State Parks and Historical Sites going to do with 26 assault rifles?
    and
    When can we expect shipment of that aircraft carrier that I requested to help protect the lily pond at the Cheyenne Botanic Garden?

    Martha Braymance
    Newcastle, WY

  4. I only have two things to say about this:
    What on earth is Wyoming State Parks and Historical Sites going to do with 26 assault rifles?
    and
    When can we expect shipment of that aircraft carrier that I requested to help protect the lily pond at the Cheyenne Botanic Garden?

    Martha Braymance
    Newcastle, WY