The U.S. military’s excess weaponry and equipment has been going to local U.S. police forces throughout the country in a little known program aimed at militarizing domestic law enforcement.
Passed in 1997 in the name of fighting the drug war and terrorism, the “1033 Program” facilitated more than $500 million worth of military arms and equipment to U.S. police forces in 2011.
Despite a 40-year low in the crime rate, police forces have received war machinery like machine-gun-equipped armored personnel carriers, M-16s, helmet-mounted infrared goggles, remote-controlled inspection robots, amphibious tanks, 16,000-pound bulletproof trucks equipped with battering rams, gun ports, tear-gas dispensers and radiation detectors, and more.
“It’s kind of had a corrupting influence on the culture of policing in America,” Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute told The Daily. “The dynamic is that you have some officer go to the chief and say, people in the next county have [military hardware], if we don’t take it some other city will. Then they acquire the equipment, they create a paramilitary unit, and everything seems fine.
“But then one or two years pass. They say, look we’ve got this equipment, this training and we haven’t been using it. That’s where it starts to creep into routine policing.”
Giving police forces the ability to wage a war for domestic purposes – that is, on the American people – is an indication that the state views its people as an enemy. Harsh police responses to Occupy Wall Street protesters is only one example of the unnerving trend.