Tanks on the Streets? Police Required to Use Military Equipment within a Year or Return It
The militarization of America’s police forces has been the result of federal policy that not only provides the means to give men-in-blue the same tools as combat soldiers, but in fact requires law enforcement to “use it or lose it” when it comes to military equipment.
Specifically, the Department of Defense’s 1033 program—which funnels all kinds of military surplus goods to police—has a provision that clearly says that any participating law enforcement agency must use its equipment within one year of receiving it. If they don’t, they have to give it up.
This from the state of Missouri’s “application to participate” in 1033: “Property obtained under this SPO must be placed into use within one (1) year of receipt, unless the condition of the property renders it unusable, in which case the property can be returned to the nearest DLA Disposition Services Site. If property is not put into use by the LEA (law enforcement agency) within one (1) year, the State/LEA must coordinate a transfer of property to another LEA or request a turn-in to return the property to the nearest DLA Disposition Services Site.”
Another problem with the Pentagon’s decision to shower police forces with military hardware is that it’s not accompanied by training, Amanda Taub noted at Vox.
While SWAT teams from large police departments train with their equipment regularly, small-town forces often don’t have the resources to spare officers for such exercises. Thus, often the only time they use the surplus equipment is during an emergency.