A sheriff in Washington state responded Monday to a controversial comment made by one of his deputies two weeks ago during a charity event.
Jerry Moffett, a deputy in Spokane County, Washington, was caught on tape at the Holiday and Heroes event during which some officers took underprivileged children shopping while others stood outside meeting and greeting those attending. But one woman who spoke to Moffett decided to record the interaction. In the video, the woman asks Moffett about the department's Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) military-style vehicles.
"I'm thinking that is totally appropriate in Iraq but what kind of a situation in the U.S. would you see that happening?" the woman asked Moffett.
The deputy responded by saying, "We've got a lot of Constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons, a lot of ammunition. They have weapons here locally."
The website, Infowars, caught wind of the exchange, posted it online and in just hours the video had hundreds of comments – most of which criticized the deputy and his words.
But Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told KXLY-TV Monday that what Moffett said in the video was taken out of context: “They used three seconds of that video. That's it,” Knezovich pointed out.
Knezovich said there is "no way" the equipment will be used on any law-abiding citizen. "It will never be used to take your guns away," he told the outlet. The outlet noted Moffett is a 20-year veteran of the force and an Army veteran.
Others are still questioning why the equipment is needed and some are even planning a protest in opposition of the vehicles on Saturday.
“Obviously it doesn't serve a useful purpose if it's considered by his deputies to be for the purpose of rounding up constitutionalists and law-abiding citizens that may adhere to the second amendment," Scott Maclay, who is organizing the protest, said.
“I was shocked. I was appalled. I couldn't believe that a deputy would make that kind of comment,” Maclay continued.
KXLY reported that Knezovich has since admitted that Moffett's word choice could have been better, suggesting "extremist" would have been more appropriate than "Constitutionalist," but Knezovich maintained the department only owns the equipment for one reason: to save lives.
“The reality is that piece of equipment, as I have stated since we received it, and throughout my campaign, is simply here to save your life and to save the life of the deputies,” Knezovich said.
Earlier this year, TheBlaze reported that the Defense Department was looking to give away thousands of military war vehicles to U.S. law enforcement – like the one owned by the Spokane County Sheriffs Department.
“We have 24,000 currently in the inventory; the services altogether took a hard look resetting the force and we want to get back to more conventional war-fighting instead of counterinsurgency and (they) said ok, we need to maintain some MRAPs in the future but we’re only taking certain models that will be most useful,” the Defense Department said at the time.
As of February, 200 requests for the vehicles were granted to law enforcement and 800 were still pending. The Pentagon said thousands of other vehicles would go to U.S.-allied forces.
This fall, President Obama ordered a review of programs that distribute military equipment to local police forces. In December, he ordered more oversight following the Michael Brown grand jury decision in Ferguson.
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