Since 2006, the federal government has supplied local police departments across the U.S. with roughly $2.2 billion in military equipment, including armored vehicles, helicopters, machine guns, and even 5,638 bayonets, according to a newly released report from the pro-government transparency group Open The Books.
Since 1997, surplus military equipment has been transferred to local PDs under the Department of Defense (DoD)’s 1033 Program, but with the increase in military spending post-9/11/01, and the subsequent scaling back of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has far more equipment than it needs, which means police in cities big and small can load up on state-of-the-art war machines, tactical gear, guns, and explosives.
One of the report’s authors, Adam Andrzejewski, wrote in an article for Forbes that America’s militarized institutions include “park districts, forest preserves, hometown police departments, junior colleges, universities, county sheriffs, natural resource and public safety departments, state police.” The report is based on data compiled from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from IllinoisLeaks.com.
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