Pentagon Suspends Program That Gives Military Weapons To Cops

Over the last 17 years, the “1033 Program” has sent millions of pieces of equipment designed for use on the battlefield to domestic police agencies across the country for use on the streets and in American neighborhoods.

The program has sent equipment such as machine guns, tanks, helicopters, grenade launchers, bazookas and armored personnel carriers throughout the program.

On Friday, The Associated Press reported that the Pentagon has asked all participating law enforcement agencies to provide a comprehensive account of each piece of equipment acquired from the program, and that it would halt further transfers until agencies complied. The audit comes after a series of reports of agencies alleged to have misused the program, including an Arizona Republic investigation, which found that the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department had transferred some equipment to non-police agencies, and was planning to sell some other equipment at auction.

The AP reported the news organization’s inquiries into how states track the weapons found that “most of them only keep paper records, and the few states that keep electronic records only recently made the switch from paper.”

Peter Kraska, a criminologist at the University of Eastern Kentucky, has long argued that even when agencies abide by the Pentagon’s rules, the program has still been a factor in the militarization of American police forces, producing a more reactionary, aggressive style of policing. Kraska, who has surveyed the prevalence of SWAT teams and SWAT raids over a 30-year period, found that by 1997, 90 percent of U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more had their own SWAT or similar paramilitary police unit. That’s twice as many as a decade earlier. The overall number of SWAT-like raids jumped from a few thousand per year in the early 1980s to around 50,000 per year by 2005, when Kraska stopped sending out his survey.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/pentagon-suspends-weapons-program-cops-military_n_1585328.html?1339419849

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