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How local, national media are investigating police militarization, shootings

Officer-involved shooting analysis tracks Coachella Valley trends | The Desert Sun

Over the past month, The Desert Sun studied more than 100 Riverside County police shootings, using public records to identify officers who have pulled the trigger in more than one incident. The Desert Sun conducted this first-ever analysis of regional police records in order to understand the frequency and circumstances of police shootings.

The analysis found that three Coachella Valley officers have fired a gun in the line of duty more than once since 2009.


Widespread militarization of Illinois police forces uncovered by I-Team | WLS-Chicago

The ABC7 I-Team is uncovering thousands of pieces of military equipment meant for the battlefield that are instead now in the hands of local police forces statewide.

From high powered military grade rifles to combat helicopters, law enforcement agencies statewide are cashing in on a federal program that provides battle-ready equipment to agencies in your backyard. For the past two decades, Illinois officials have used the Federal Law Enforcement Support Office or LESO 1033 program to outfit law enforcement departments with the latest in military grade equipment and technology.


Ferguson highlights police use of military gear and tactics | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

According to federal data, various police agencies in St. Louis County received 12 5.56mm rifles and six .45-caliber pistols between Aug. 2, 2010, and Feb. 13, 2013. They also received 15 “reflex” gun sights, four night vision devices and three night sights, as well as a $10,000 explosive ordnance robot, three helicopters, seven Humvees and three cargo trailers. One helicopter alone was originally worth $200,000.

State data obtained in 2012 show that St. Louis County police received at least two helicopters, computer equipment, two old SUVs and roughly 20 Kevlar helmets since 2007.


How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program | Newsweek

America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.

Faced with a bloated military and what it perceived as a worsening drug crisis, the 101st Congress in 1990 enacted the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is— (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.” It was called the 1208 Program. In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033.


Md. police receive millions in military gear | Baltimore Sun

Local police departments in Maryland have received more than $12 million in excess equipment from the U.S. military — from a $400,000 "mine-resistant vehicle" to a set of a dozen spoons valued at $3.06 apiece — through a federal program that has come under bipartisan scrutiny.

The data show Maryland police departments received nearly 4,000 military-grade items under the program, though it's not clear how much of that equipment has been retained. Montgomery County received more than any other jurisdiction in the state in terms of dollar value, roughly $4.6 million. Baltimore City received about $553,000 worth of weapons and gear.


Wisconsin agencies have $28M in surplus military gear | Gannett Wisconsin Media

Wisconsin police agencies have acquired more than $28 million of military gear from the Pentagon during the past decade, including mine-resistant trucks, night-vision goggles, assault rifles, grenade launchers and a helicopter.

Records from the state's Department of Military Affairs, obtained by Gannett Wisconsin Media under Wisconsin's public records law, show that more than 67,000 military-grade items were given to 219 agencies since 2004.


Ohio law-enforcers gaining a military feel | The Columbus Dispatch

Since 1995, about 550 Ohio police departments, sheriff’s offices, university and private police forces have procured nearly 65,000 surplus items through the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program as the military downsized. One of the most-popular items is the M16A1 5.56-millimeter automatic rifle, which entered wide military use during the Vietnam War. About 440 agencies have them, although no one has more than the State Highway Patrol. It has about 1,000.

Over the past year or two, the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) has become available. There now are 36 Ohio agencies that have an MRAP through the program.


Local cops say $3.5M in military surplus intended for emergencies | The Journal News (Westchester County, NY)

Tuckahoe is one of 14 police departments in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam that together received more than $3.5 million in surplus military equipment since 2006, including high-powered rifles, Humvees, computers and bomb-disposal robots, according to a Journal News analysis of data from the Defense Logistics Agency.

The haul — part of $25 million in surplus items sent for free to law enforcement agencies statewide — is from the DLA's Law Enforcement Support Office. The program, known as 1033, came under heavy criticism last week after police in Ferguson, Mo. used a "Bearcat" armored truck, assault rifles and other military equipment in response to residents protesting the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.


Military surplus bonanza transforms Tennessee police work | The Tennessean

The wave hit Tennessee last year, when agencies across the state got almost $30 million in equipment — tripling the previous year's haul. This year, the amount doubled again, and Tennessee pulled in equipment worth $63 million, according to state records.

Those big gains have ranked Tennessee among the top 10 military surplus states in recent years.


Local law enforcement has stockpile of military surplus | The Virginian-Pilot

Beginning in 2004, southeastern Virginia law enforcement agencies have obtained numerous trucks, all-terrain vehicles, gun sights, inflatable boats and more than 400 military assault rifles. Local departments also collected cameras, printers and office equipment from the Pentagon.

Across Virginia, the program has sent 1,760 assault rifles and 116 12-gauge shotguns to local and state agencies, according to Department of Defense records. In addition to Virginia Beach's mine-resistant vehicle, known as an MRAP, 15 other cities and counties, including York County and Franklin, took delivery of the armored vehicles, according to the records.


Reporting resources

Every item distributed to local law enforcement by the Pentagon's 1033 program over two years | Muck Rock

Our curiosity piqued, we figured we would go straight to the source and ask the Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office, which oversees the 1033 program, for a list of all participating agencies as well for its database of all dispensed equipment.

After some negotiation with DLA, in December we obtained the full roster of participating law enforcement agencies, as well as a spreadsheet with two years of equipment transfers down to the state level.


IRE Tipsheet: Military weapons sent to local police — the 1033 Program

Under the 1033 Program, local police departments can submit applications for surplus military equipment. Learn how to request and report on program data. 


GitHub repo containing the raw data The New York Times received on the Defense Department’s 1033 program. The county-level data is in an Excel file.

Previous coverage of the 1033 Program

Local police stockpile high-tech, combat-ready gear | The Center for Investigative Reporting

The federal grant spending, awarded with little oversight from Washington, has fueled a rapid, broad transformation of police operations in Fargo and in departments across the country. More than ever before, police rely on quasi-military tactics and equipment, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

No one can say exactly what has been purchased in total across the country or how it’s being used, because the federal government doesn’t keep close track. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records. But a review of records from 41 states obtained through open-government requests, and interviews with more than two-dozen current and former police officials and terrorism experts, shows police departments around the U.S. have transformed into small army-like forces.


Blankets to armored vehicles: Military gives it, Utah police take it | Salt Lake Tribune

The MRAP is not the only gift Utah law enforcement agencies have received from the military. In the two-year period beginning in October 2011, Utah police received 1,230 rifles, according to records the Defense Department provided to The Tribune.

Utah police also received four grenade launchers, 17 .45-caliber pistols and a handful of magazines and weapon accessories.


War Gear Flows to Police Departments | The New York Times

During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”


Police officer safety or surplus zeal: Military equipment spurs debate | The Indianapolis Star

Johnson County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire MRAPs from military surplus since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star. The vehicles are among a broad array of 4,400 items — everything from coats to computers to high-powered rifles — acquired by police and sheriff's departments across the state.



MISSION CREEP: Feds help militarize police agencies | Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has spent billions of tax dollars since 2003 outfitting state and local law enforcement agencies – including New Mexico’s – with armored vehicles, powerful weaponry and other cutting-edge technology.

Federal and local authorities contend the high-tech and often highly visible equipment deters crime and protects officers against violent offenders, some of whom are armed with increasingly deadly weapons themselves. But civil liberties groups, members of Congress and some former law enforcement officials wonder if the investment is worth it, and if it is effectively turning local police forces into paramilitary units.



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