Police Are Using $1.6 Billion in Surplus Military Gear Doled Out Since 9/11
Police departments are using more than $1 billion in surplus military equipment handed out by the Pentagon since 9/11, according to a study released last week by Brown University’s Costs of War project.
The study found that the Department of Defense’s (DOD) 1033 program, which offers free surplus military equipment to police departments, has transferred at least $1.6 billion worth of equipment to departments across the country since 9/11, compared to just $27 million before the terrorist attack.
That equipment includes mine-resistant, armored-protective vehicles, or MRAPs, which are hulking, armored personnel carriers designed to survive bomb blasts on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, 1,114 MRAPs are currently in the possession of American police departments. Texas law enforcement received 116 MRAPs, the most of any state. Tennessee received the second-most, 86, and Florida received third-most, 72.
The total dollar value is likely an undercount, because the study only tracked “controlled property,” like MRAPs and weaponry, which stays on the Pentagon’s books as long as it remains in use. Since it was established in 1990, the 1033 program has transferred more than $7 billion total in surplus military equipment to local police departments, according to DOD estimates, but most of that stuff is mundane “non-controlled” items, like cold-weather gear and filing cabinets.
However, this most recent report says it offers “the most updated and comprehensive accounting of post-9/11 1033 program equipment transfers to date.”
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