How much is too much? There's a growing chorus of calls to demilitarize police after images of armored vehicles and tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri in response to rioting after a white police officer allegedly shot and killed a black teenager.
Among those arguing Ferguson police used too much force, Attorney General Eric Holder and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The situation also has prompted calls for reviewing the government's program which grants military equipment to local police.
However, Ray Hunt at the Houston Police Officers' Union disagrees.
“We have situations where people get very upset and very angry, and we have to make sure that we have all the equipment that we can possibly have to make sure our police officers and the community is kept safe,” Hunt tells KTRH News.
“Its unfortunate that persons believe it all looks to much like a military-style uniform, but we have to make sure our officers are safe whenever they're called into these volatile situations,” he says.
Former Boston cop turned criminal justice professor Tom Nolan agrees that equipment may be needed in certain situations, just not in Ferguson.
“Just to use these kinds of weapons, vehicles and equipment as the default option when you're dealing with a serious situation I think is wrong-headed and ill-conceived,” says Nolan.
Nolan believes Ferguson will be used as a case study of "what not to do" in future police training.
“Conventional police methods could have been more than sufficient to the task of dealing with the looting, stoning and throwing of objects at police,” he says.