After police used massive military vehicles in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 to quell protests over the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, public awareness and criticism of what is known as the “1033 program” increased.Paul Szoldra, “This Is The Terrifying Result Of The Militarization Of Police,” Business Insider, August 12, 2014; and Alex Zimmerman, “A Veteran Black Cop Talks Police Militarization and the Racial Divisions Still Plaguing Ferguson,” Vice, January 11, 2016. Under this federal program, state and local law enforcement agencies may request vehicles and equipment from the Department of Defense for their own use.Defense Logistics Agency, “1033 Program FAQs” Over 8,000 federal and state agencies currently participate in the program.Defense Logistics Agency, “1033 Program FAQs”
President Obama took steps to limit the program, but those restrictions have been removed by the Trump administration.For the Obama-era policy, see Executive Order 13688, “Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition” 80 FR 3451, January 22, 2015. For the Trump Administration’s policy, see Executive Order 13809, “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources,” August 28, 2017. Agencies are once again free to acquire military-grade weapons and equipment like bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, and grenade launchers for use in local law enforcement.Simone Weischelbaum and Justin George, “Why Do Cops Need Bayonets?” The Marshall Project, September 1, 2017. While some military equipment can be useful in specific instances, such as search and rescue or hostage situations, critics—including some with law enforcement and military experience—have raised issues with the lack of training in both the use of the gear itself and in alternate policing methods that would avoid its use entirely by building community partnerships.John Dixon, “Military Equipment for Police Should Require Military-Style Oversight,” The Hill, November 16, 2017.