From the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to a neighborhood near you.
Many citizens are unaware the local law enforcement agencies have been requesting (and receiving) “surplus” military equipment for use in their own departments. These acquisitions are often not in response to any real or perceived threat or law enforcement issue, but rather an attempt to intimidate its citizens and justify increased budgets and further public perception that violent crime (or crime in general) is on the rise.
The Delano PD claims that military tanks are needed to assist them in "hostage rescues", "terrorist acts", "natural disasters", and a host of other "special considerations" they outlined in their official request.
The Kern County Sheriff's Department requested these military vehicles are needed to carry out "operations" in mountainous, desert and urban areas and in inclement weather."
As a response to public outcry over the militarization of our local police departments and their responses to events such as Ferguson, MI, the Obama Administration established a task force to look into recommendations that will address the growing concern many Americans have over the capricious policies and overwhelming force local law enforcement uses in response to civil unrest.
Trevor Burrus, from the Cato Institute, discusses President Obama’s executive action banning the Pentagon from giving certain military equipment to local police departments on FOX WHBQ. Click on this link to view the video.
The list below outlines only the list of newly prohibited equipment. The entire report of can be found here.
It should come as no surprise that the war on drugs is the main rationale for the rise in militarized police, as the 1033 program was born of drug prohibition. The New York Times recalls:
Congress created the program in the 1990s as a way to help the police fight drug crime and violence. After 9/11, as the military ramped up to fight two wars, the program grew in the name of fighting terrorism. Lately, police departments big and small have been outfitting themselves with aircraft, night-vision goggles and trucks built to survive buried roadside bombs.
RECOMMENDATION 1.1 — PROHIBITED EQUIPMENT LIST: The Prohibited equipment list identifies categories of equipment that should not be authorized for Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to acquire via transfer from Federal agencies or purchase using Federally‐provided funds.
- Tracked Armored Vehicles: Vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion.
- Weaponized Aircraft, Vessels, and Vehicles of Any Kind: These items will be prohibited from purchase or transfer with weapons installed.
- Firearms of .50‐Caliber or Higher
- Ammunition of .50‐Caliber or Higher
- Grenade Launchers: Firearm or firearm accessory designed to launch small explosive projectiles.
- Bayonets: Large knives designed to be attached to the muzzle of a rifle/shotgun/long gun for the purposes of hand‐to‐hand combat.
- Camouflage Uniforms: Does not include woodland or desert patterns or solid color uniforms.