Following the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, tension between demonstrators and local police have turned the nation’s attention to the town. Images from Ferguson of police with armored vehicles, semi-automatic rifles and body armor have brought increased attention to federal programs that help local police acquire excess military equipment. The U.S. Defense Department’s 1033 program has allowed police departments around the country to purchase more than $4.3 billion dollars in paramilitary weapons, vehicles and other equipment at discounted rates.
A recent News-Press report finds that several law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida have purchased such equipment. President Obama recently ordered a review of these federal programs. We’ll explore what local law enforcement agencies have acquired through these programs and how the equipment is used.
Have local law enforcement agencies become too militarized?