The civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, has finally gotten President Obama and the mainstream media to notice a story Off the Grid News has been reporting for quite a while: the federal government’s widespread distribution of military weaponry and equipment to local police and sheriff’s departments.
But there’s a new, disturbing twist: A lot of the weapons distributed to local cops have simply vanished.
An investigation by Fusion.net showed that 184 state and local police departments have been suspended from the Pentagon’s controversial 1033 program because they either misplaced weapons or didn’t follow other guidelines.
“[The program] is obviously very sloppy, and it’s another reason that Congress needs to revisit this promptly,” Tim Lynch, director of the CATO Institute’s project on criminal justice, told the website. “We don’t know where these weapons are going, whether they are really lost, or whether there is corruption involved.”
Examples of missing weapons include:
- The Stockton Police Department in California could not account for two M-16 semiautomatic rifles.
- The Meridian Police Department in Mississippi misplaced four M-14 rifles.
- The Huntington Beach Police Department in California was not able to determine what happened to an M-16.
- The Sutter County Sheriff’s Office in California was unable to account for an M-14 rifle and two M-15 rifles.
- One police department (Palestine, Arkansas) had a Humvee stolen, while the Georgia Department of Corrections sold a Humvee it should not have sold. Both were later recovered. Each weighs 5,000 pounds.
Police departments in several other states are being investigated because of missing guns.
Most troubling? The weapons could be sold on the black market and used by criminals or terrorists, Fusion noted.
“That uncertainty is very unsettling,” Lynch said.
While the images out of Ferguson, Missouri, convinced the White House to place the program under review, the latest news only underscores the importance of of re-assessing it. Since 1990, the Pentagon has given a total of $4.3 billion in military equipment to more than 8,000 police departments.
“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,” President Obama said.
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The show of force in Ferguson convinced even combat veterans that something was wrong.
“We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone,” a person who identified himself as a veteran of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division wrote in a Twitter message to Business Insider writer Paul Szoldra.
The New York Times published an interactive map that shows the distribution of military equipment and weapons to police forces. The weaponry includes grenade launchers, rifles, armored vehicles, mine-proof vehicles, body armor, night vision, helicopters and airplanes.
The weaponry is just as likely to go to lightly populated rural areas as to big cities. Some of the items distributed to local law enforcement include:
- Box Elder County in Northwestern Utah (population 50,171) received a grenade launcher, an armored vehicle and 54 military rifles.
- Park County, Colorado (population 16,029) received an armored vehicle, five semiautomatic rifles and four night vision devices.
- St. Louis County, Minnesota (which runs from Duluth to the Canadian border) received 125 rifles, a mine-resistant vehicle and an armored vehicle.
- Siskiyou County, California, (population 44,900) received a grenade launcher, a mine-resistant vehicle, 32 rifles, 35 pieces of body armor, and three night vision devices.
- Acadia Parish, Louisiana (population 61,773) received 22 rifles and a mine-resistant vehicle.
- Lancaster County, Nebraska (Lincoln) received three armored vehicles, one mine-resistant vehicle, 10 rifles and four night vision devices.
- Lincoln County, New Mexico (population 20,497) received a mine resistant vehicle.
- Police in Bloomington, Georgia (population 2,713) received four grenade launchers, Newsweek reported.
“The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action,” US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) wrote in Time magazine during the height of the controversy.
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