Barack Obama’s Pentagon is stepping up efforts to militarize local law enforcement by sending exponential amounts of weaponry to police agencies and other state agencies in the wake of recent unrest and protests against police.
So let me get this straight: The administration sends Eric Holder and other officials to Ferguson to whip up anti-police sentiment; the President himself publicly injects himself into the growing protests – then they continue to militarize local law enforcement to deal with it?
The federal government shipped nearly 4,000 more assault rifles to local law enforcement agencies in the three months following the Ferguson riots, marking a huge surge in the amount of lethal firearms being doled out to police and sheriff’s offices.
The Ferguson riots drew attention and criticism to the massive firepower state and local police are now able to bring to bear on their citizens, and earned scrutiny for the Pentagon project, known as the 1033 program, that helps arm many of those agencies by making surplus military equipment available to them.
The 3,879 rifles the Pentagon shipped was an astronomical increase over the dozen rifles shipped during the same three-month period in 2013, with several police agencies taking delivery of hundreds of rifles soon after the Ferguson riots.
Then there are the agencies that had been trying to give back equipment for some time. That was the case for Chelan County, east of Seattle, which had requested an armored truck in the late 1990s, but the Defense Department had insisted it take three massive tracked vehicles built to carry a 107-mm mortar. The extras were supposed to be good for spare parts.
The trucks had their weapons removed to make them more usable for police purposes, but even so, the sheriff’s department’s SWAT team said they weren’t working out. They were used for training but weren’t taken out on any calls because they turned out not to be as safe as the department wanted, Undersheriff John Wisemore told The Times in the wake of the Ferguson riots.
His department lent the 10-ton trucks to the local fire district in 2006, and they were converted into firefighting gear, even as the sheriff worked to try to get the Pentagon to take them back. (All unwanted equipment is supposed to be returned to the feds.)
Earlier this month, after the attention Ferguson brought to the program, the undersheriff said they’d finally gotten the transfer done. The trucks were sent to a training center in Yakima, Washington, just before Thanksgiving.
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