We produce so much military hardware that eventually the robots and the M-16s, the grenade launchers and the armored vehicles start to pile up. It’s hard to convince Congress you need more when you still have a warehouse full of the stuff in unopened crates. That sort of thing might lead to *gasp!* budget cuts. Fortunately for the Pentagon there is something called the “1033 Program”. It allows the military to give military-grade weapons directly to police departments all across America. This year it amounted to over $500,000,000 worth of military gear.
1033 was passed by Congress to help police with the wars on terrorism and drugs but, despite a 40 year low in crime, the police are snapping up then weapons like never before. This years orders set a record. Next year’s are already up 400% over that. Considering that the increase in orders for heavy weapons coincides tidily with the heavy-handed response to the Occupy movement in many cities and it seems a chillingly ominous trend.
Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s project on criminal justice told The Daily, “The trend toward militarization was well under way before 9/11, but it’s the federal policy of making surplus military equipment available almost for free that has poured fuel on this fire.”
From The Daily:
Thanks to it, cops in Cobb County, Ga. — one of the wealthiest and most educated counties in the U.S. — now have an amphibious tank. The sheriff of Richland County, S.C., proudly acquired a machine-gun-equipped armored personnel carrier that he nicknamed “The Peacemaker.”
This comes on top of grants from the Department of Homeland Security that enable police departments to buy vehicles such as “BearCats” — 16,000-pound bulletproof trucks equipped with battering rams, gun ports, tear-gas dispensers and radiation detectors. To date, more than 500 of these tank-like vehicles have been sold by Lenco, its Massachusetts-based manufacturer, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
The more insidious problem arises a couple of years after a department loads up on all of this heavy weaponry. They notice it is just sitting there unused. Someone says, “Waste not want not.” and the arms begin to creep into routine police work. Then it is only a matter of time when someone finds a reason to use them on a suspect.
The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture. Philip Posehn's main blog is at The Town Scryer.