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Highway Patrol: military weapons protect officers

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Law enforcement authorities in North Dakota say the military weapons they have are rarely used and are largely defensive in nature.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind is the head of the statewide emergency response team. He tells the Bismarck Tribune that when officers resort to use special weapons and gear, the top reason is their own safety.

Law enforcement's use of military weaponry has drawn scrutiny following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, that stemmed from the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.

Niewind says his team's recent deployment to Leith to provide crowd control amid the controversy over a white supremacist was the first such deployment he can recall in over a decade.

Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin says the equipment can save officers' lives if used correctly.