Militarization of Police Departments
Both Democrats and Republicans fall all over each
other to militarize local police departments.
Southern California is mired in more than three years of drought, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is prepared for snowy conditions after it received 1,600 parkas for camouflage, 500 snowshoes and 132 snow trousers in March from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The gear was listed in data recently released by the department detailing the transfer of surplus military equipment to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country. More than $160 million in equipment has gone to agencies in California, with some small towns like Santa Maria receiving grenade launchers, the data show. The vast majority of the equipment was given since 2006.
California agencies have also received meals, office supplies, night vision goggles, high-powered military rifles, x-ray machines and a boat reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Pentagon released the data with little fanfare last month on its Defense Logistics Agency e-reading room for Freedom of Information Act requests after being inundated with requests from journalists, MuckRock and The Marshall Project reported Thursday.
The federal surplus program has become controversial, with critics saying it adds to the militarization of police departments.
In September, the Los Angeles school police returned three grenade launchers it received through the federal program. But the department held on to its rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, which is designed to withstand rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.
City officials in Davis, Calif., directed their police department in August to return a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle, which is worth $689,000, after residents protested the acquisition, saying it would make people more fearful of the police.