Military vehicles on city streets – what you need to know

WTHI File Photo from standoff at 11th and Washington in May.
WTHI File Photo from standoff at 11th and Washington in May.

s9Terre Haute, Ind. (WTHI) – Conflicts like today’s in Terre Haute and the problems in Ferguson, Missouri after a police officer reportedly shot and killed a teenager have sparked a popular debate this week

The issue of debate…military vehicles on local streets.

Many are wondering why they’re used in civilian life? Some report being frightened by the machines.

There is a lot of talk about this right now and on a national level. We saw it right here in Terre Haute at a recent stand off.

Witnesses compared it the scene to something seen in a war zone.

We wanted to look into it and find out the details about the vehicles.
When and why are they used? And what do ‘you’ need to know when you see one in your neighborhood?

It’s not the vehicle you’re used to seeing your local officers in
As one witness described here in Terre haute a couple of weeks ago…

“a humvee with a machine gun attached to it, you know you only see that stuff in Afghanistan,” he said.

But he saw it right on his own street. Police say their use for it is completely different.

“I understand that the average person when they see one of these people they associate it with military operations and that is what they were designed for. But as a marine corp veteran, I also understand that the military’s mission is different than that of civilian law enforcement and it should be,” Shawn Keen, Assistant Chief of police in Terre Haute, said.

It’s military-strength protection that is used only in specific situations and for specific reasons.

“I understand the perception of people when they see these one the city streets saying why we need that. You know, I can’t talk it general terms for every department but specifically for our department, and specifically for the special response team our primary use for those vehicles is for the ballistic protection the provide.,” Keen said.

s1Protection that’s stronger than what the vests and helmets can provide alone.
Especially when they may not know exactly what they’re up against.

“You can never know exactly. I mean you can get a search warrant and realize that okay we’ll use a special response team because this person has a history of violence, there’s weapons involved or know some kind of heightened level that’s going to require a special response team but you never know how that persons going to react,”

And for those who may get a bit taken aback if they see it on average city streets…

“I think it reinforces that the planning, the training and the use or equipment, how we utilize it, has be shown to lean more towards life saving instead of life taking and that’s overall our goal,” Keen said.

Another time they’re used is in extreme weather conditions that the average humvee can’t navigate through. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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