According to a periodical by the government office in charge of equipping law enforcement agencies with surplus military gear, Fiscal Year 2011 was a record year in property transfers from the US military’s stockpiles to police departments around the nation. The transfers took place under a program that explicitly allows law enforcement agencies to acquire such goods for free. In FY2011, the value of these acquisitions amounted to half-a-billion dollars.
The quaterly newsletter, titled All Points Bulletin, is an official publication of the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), which is currently a part of the Defense Logistics Agency. A tag line used in the newsletter reads: “from warfighter to crimefighter.” In the recent October issue, LESO program manager Craig Barret brags that “[FY 2011] has been a historic year for the program. We reutilized more than $500M, that is million with an M, worth of property in FY 11. This passes the previous mark by several hundred million dollars.”
LESO is in charge of administering the 1033 Program, a by-product of the FY1997 National Defense Authorization Act. The program officially allows the Pentagon to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is – (A) suitable for use by the agencies in law enforcement activities, including counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.”
Elsewhere in the same publication it is revealed that LESO issued 800 Humvees in FY2011, a 700% increase from FY2010. In the same time period 27 Armored Vehicles were distributed as well. One of the latest vehicles declared up-for-grabs is the South African manufactured REVA 4×4 Armored Personnel Carrier. LESO previously boasted that “its V-shaped hull offers protection against land mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and has space for at least 10 passengers.”
With the militarization of law enforcement becoming an higher profile issue in recent times, it is probably a good idea to keep tabs on the specific government agencies that are most directly complicit.
- “SWAT Raids, Stun Guns, And Pepper Spray: Why The Government Is Ramping Up The Use Of Force” by Radley Balko (Huffington Post, 5 December 2011)
- “Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street” by Norm Stamper (Nation, 9 November 2011)
- “Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force” by Rania Khalek (AlterNet, 5 July 2011)
- Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America by Radley Balko (CATO Institute, 17 July 2006)
- Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments by Diane Cecilia Weber Diane (CATO Institute, 26 August 1999)