Defense Department Gives Police Military Vehicles, Equipment
With the US military pulling out of Iraq, the Department of Defense has figured out their preferred way to recycle all of their war zone vehicles and equipment that they are bringing back – hand them over to local law enforcement. This week, the Pentagon announced that it would be giving domestic police 18-ton, $500,000 armored vehicles used to patrol the streets of Iraq to be used in preventing any “high-scale activity.”
According to the Associated Press, more than $4 billion in military equipment has been given to local police departments, usually to sheriffs in rural areas. The AP noted that Ohio State University campus security obtained one of these vehicles to “use it in large-scale emergencies and to provide a police presence on football game days.”
Other vehicles were sent to the High Springs, Fla. police department and the Dallas County sheriff. The Albany, NY sheriff has four smaller military humvees and will now receive “mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles” as soon as “technicians remove the gun turret and change the paint from military sand to civilian black.” In total, 165 of these vehicles have been claimed since they became available over the summer.
Not everyone is a big fan of the Pentagon’s new recycling program. ACLU Center for Justice senior counsel Kara Dansky noted that “One of our concerns with this is it has a tendency to escalate violence.”
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple disagreed, saying “Nothing could be further from the truth, our problem is we have to make sure we are prepared to respond to every type of crisis.”
In a CSPAN forum last year, Radley Balko, author of “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” noted that it’s smart to avoid having to bring soldiers in to carry out high-scale operations on US soil but said “the outcome is just as troubling, I think, as if the military were actually doing domestic police themselves.”
Earlier this year, Reuters reported about another problem with this program – abuse. Reuters reported that “Shocking, almost comical, examples of abuse have been well-documented — from the officer who sold his weapons on eBay, to the one who lent his weapons to unauthorized friends and the police departments that lost the military weapons or tried to auction them off.”