The police response to protests in Ferguso over the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown brought the issue of militarized police into the forefront of national dialogue. The fight against police militarization became a sort of culture war thing. Eager to show that he sympathized with protesters and to distance himself from the actions and consequences of a federal government he’s indisputably at the head of, President Obama ordered a review of the Pentagon’s 1033 program, under which military surplus is sent to local law enforcement. Demilitarizing our cities and communities was always going to be an uphill battle; the police didn’t militarize of their own accord, the years-long process would be impossible without a level of support not just from politicians but voters too.
Now the Washington Times reports on just how little the president’s review and protests in Ferguson changed the facts on the ground:
A Washington Times analysis of the first three months after the riots shows the program remains popular with law enforcement agencies throughout the country, though there have been some changes in the types of equipment that are now being offered.
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.
Armored vehicles, which drew particular scrutiny in the riots in Ferguson and other cities, were less popular in the aftermath. The Pentagon shipped just 11 mine-resistant vehicles, or MRAPs, from Aug. 15 through Nov. 14, compared to nearly 180 in the same time period a year earlier.