Until this issue was raised (on a libertarian site I frequent) I'd never given much thought to excess Pentagon equipment being given to local law enforcement. I'm reminded of a series of lines from the relatively recently reimagined Battlestar Galactica series in which Commander Adama explains to new-President Roslyn why Galactica's marines cannot serve as a civilian police force throughout the fleet:
is the problem with militarizing police forces.
Recently I came across this article
, from a site I do not know and the validity of which I cannot yet vouch
, outlining what types of military equipment have been delivered to local law enforcement all over the country. On this site, though, I was shocked to find that my own little hamlet in suburban Sacramento has an MRAP. That's Mine Resistant, Armor Plating. Why the heck does a local police force need such a vehicle? And the vehicle truly does exist--I saw it in my neighborhood
a few weeks ago! The local police said it's good for them to have such a "defensive" vehicle, one that protects officers, but unless they're being protected from mines and RPGs, which we don't have many of here in Sacramento County...talk about the militarization of the police!
I started this post well over a month ago and just saved it, not knowing when or if I'd ever finish it, but decided today to complete it when I heard about the following
The Obama administration on Monday moved to prohibit federal agencies from providing local cops with certain kinds of military equipment such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and bayonets, in the wake of controversy over a "militarized" police response to unrest last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The new prohibitions are part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued for federal agencies to review the types of equipment they provide to local and state police...
"We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them," Obama said in Camden Monday. "It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message."
Agencies including the Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security departments help provide equipment to local police.
The banned list includes: tank-like armored vehicles that move on tracks, certain types of camouflage uniforms, bayonets, firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, grenade launchers, and weaponized aircraft.
Why do police officers need bayonets or camouflage uniforms? Answer: they don't. And if they don't need those, they don't need grenade launchers or weaponized aircraft, either--for exactly the reasons Commander Adama gave in the video clip, and for exactly the same reasons President Obama outlined in Camden.
Update, 5/20/15: Here's the information at the bottom of the first link:
It's set to open on California but you can check whatever state you want. I notice the Sacramento County Sheriff got 5 bayonets and scabbards. US DHS CBP FORCE OPTIONS TRNG, which is listed in California, was given machetes. Ventura County was provided with "guns thru 30mm". Maybe they got a Vulcan!
Update #2, 12/31/21: It's sad the link above is no longer active. I discovered that today when writing another post and wanted to link to the issue of my local city's police force having an MRAP.