Aug 2, 2013
An Associated Press investigation has found that small town police departments are essentially grabbing whatever elite military equipment they can lay their hands on, in a move that is blurring the line between law enforcement and military service in the US.
The little known scheme, dubbed the “1033 Program” when passed by congress in 1997, was slated to bolster police departments in order to allow them to more effectively fight the “war on drugs” and to combat “terrorism”.
The program has seen police become equipped with surplus supplies of military robots, M-16 assault rifles, helicopters, armored vehicles, and even grenade launchers, all to be used against US citizens.
In 2011 alone, police departments across the nation received more than $500 million of military grade equipment.
The AP investigation found that the attitude among many small town departments is to grab what they can. It’s findings include:
– Morven, Ga.: Despite having an ankle-deep creek as it’s deepest body of water, the police chief got his hands on three boats, scuba gear, and rescue rafts.
– Rising Star, Texas: With a population of 835 residents, and only one full-time police officer, this department netted more than $3.2 million in property over 14 months.
– Bureau Count, Ill.: The sheriff — who had government-issued M14 rifles — was accused of lending some of them out to friends.
Norm Stamper, a retired Seattle Police chief warned “The harm for me is that it further militarizes American law enforcement.”
“We make a serious mistake, I’m convinced, in equipping domestic law enforcement, particularly in smaller, rural communities, with this much military equipment.” he added.
The move to militarize police has been ongoing for some time. Departments across the country have received more than $34 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security.
“We do know that in 2011, a half-billion dollars of surplus military equipment went to police departments,” John Chasnoff, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, told CBS St. Louis. “We have concerns that the lines between the two [police and military] is starting to blur.”
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, andPrisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.