South Florida towns prepare for unexpected with military equipment

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A few thousand pounds of military metal has been converted to serve and protect approximately 2,500 people along less than 1 square mile of streets in one South Florida town.

VIRGINIA GARDENS, Fla. –

Sitting in one of South Florida’s most quiet cities, not far from the water fountains and waving flags, is the big military commando truck that Virginia Gardens Police Department proudly owns. It’s a few thousand pounds of military metal that has been converted to serve and protect approximately 2,500 people along less than 1 square mile of streets.

“Should we be surprised seeing this vehicle?” investigative reporter Ross Palombo asked Chief James Chohonis.

“I would think so, yes,” Chohonis said.

The surprise may be that in a city where crime is stunningly low and where hurricane storm surges haven’t hit in years, the chief said this war vehicle was brought in to battle both.

Palombo: “(Have you had) any murders in the last 10 years?”

Chohonis: “No, we have not.”

Palombo: “Hostage situations?”

Chohonis: “No, we have not.”

Palombo: “Any kind of standoff?”

Chohonis: “No.”

Chohonis said, though, that the vehicle is there just in case.

“Transporting people, transporting officers, you know, to keep them alive. It is bulletproof,” Chohonis said.

And while his city only has one, the small city of Sweetwater has two armored military vehicles, two military choppers, two choppers for parts, three scooters, two trucks, 24 military assault rifles and one military grenade launcher.

“It’s for chemical agent deployment,” Chief Jesus Menocal said about the grenade launchers.

“How come you’re the most armored?” Palombo asked.

“Because they think in the box. I like to think outside the box,” Menocal said. “I like to be prepared for if something happens.”

Something, he said, like flooding. And something like criminals with their own assault rifles.

“So when is the last time you had someone shooting with an assault rifle here?” Palombo ased.

“In Sweetwater, none that I can recall,” Menocal said.

Written by Ross Palombo
Read more at WPLG – Miami

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