Sarasota residents and law enforcement react to police use of military-style weapons

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SARASOTA, Fla In the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, some people wonder why police would need military-style weapons.

"I don't think they should be using assault weapons. What's the need for it?" a woman who wanted to remain anonymous in New town asked.

But another resident of Newtown who didn't want to appear on camera says she can see both sides.

"Yes, but I think they (police) need to protect themselves and I'm still wondering where our children are getting weapons from also, so it's a Catch 22," she said.

But if you ask the current and a former police chief in Sarasota, you'll find a lot of equipment fell in their laps after the Pentagon looked to sell off surplus equipment.

"There was a lot of excess after the wars and then a need in local communities to have the ability to respond (to emergencies and crimes)," said former Chief Peter Abbott. He ran the department from 2002 to 2010.

Current police chief Bernadette DiPino agrees.

"You look at incidents like the bombing in Boston, and police are on the front line of defense and they have to have the equipment and training and tactics to defend the communities they're working in," DiPino said.

DiPino says the military sell-off has come in handy here.

"Our agency has had the benefit of getting some armored vehicles through the government," she said.