Pentagon releases list of hardware it's given to local police

  • 9 December 2014
  • NormanL
Weapons and hardware given to local police

For nearly two decades, the Defense Department has managed the 1033 program that transfers used military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.  Recent stories about the amount and types of military hardware finding its way into police hands have raised serious questions about usefulness, need and oversight. Now, the Pentagon has finally made available a list of just what it's given to police departments across the country. But it didn't come easily:

As recently as October, the department’s Defense Logistics Agency, which manages the equipment distribution effort, rejected Freedom of Information Act requests for a detailed accounting of what equipment has been given to whom. The agency provided only county-by-county information about the donations. Then, on Nov. 21, the Pentagon shifted course, posting the full details of the program with no announcement.

Few critics have taken issue with the recycling of general equipment, but many have raised concerns about local police agencies, including campus police, being armed with tactical equipment intended for combat on foreign soil.

We urge you to take a look at the full listing to determine if your local police department has participated, and if so, what they received. We were intrigued, and a little dismayed, at this revelation:

...the Defense Logistics Agency gives a “Million Dollar Customer” award to agencies that take more than $1 million in equipment. Among the 203 departments whose receipt of tactical equipment alone would make them eligible to join the club, you might correctly expect to find Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston, but big city departments aren’t the only ones to make the cut.

Since 2006, police in Winthrop Harbor, Ill., a village of 6,700 along the shore of Lake Michigan, has received 10 helicopters, one mine-resistant armored vehicle and two Humvees, and other equipment, worth more than $6.5 million.

In Alabama, the Oxford Police Department received $3.7 million in equipment since 2008, including 9 Humvees, two heavily armored vehicles, a utility truck and expensive aircraft equipment. Oxford has 22,000 residents and 50 sworn police officers.

We understand that police officers have a very dangerous job. But we are also very concerned about departments acquiring mine resistant vehicles, helicopters, high powered rifles and other material designed for and used in combat.