Trump to Restore Program Which Provided Military Surplus to Law Enforcement

On Monday, Aug 28th President Trump made good on a campaign promise to remove restrictions put in place by the Obama administration restricting law enforcement’s access to military surplus equipment. These transfers, under the 1033 Program, had been occurring for decades under multiple Presidents but were curtailed following public outcry concerning the militarization of police.
Attorney General Jeff Session made the announcement Monday morning while attending the Fraternal Order of Police Nation Convention in Nashville, TN. This was a fitting setting give the enormous support the FOP provided then candidate Trump and their long standing support of the 1033 Program. President Trump made good on this promise later in the day by signing the Executive Order removing the Obama restrictions on providing “offensive weapons”.

As one can imagine the anti-Trump faction was quick to take to social media and denounce the move, claiming the militarization of our nation’s police put minorities at risk. Numerous tweets, blogs, and posts popped up questioning why police need a tank, weaponized aircraft or .50 caliber rifles.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) issued the following statement in opposition to the Executive Order:

“The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work with local law enforcement to reduce or solve crime, but it is another for them to subsidize militarization…( Washington Post 08/28/17)

Let’s break this down and see what the real story is.

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

1. Although many of the opposition likes to point out the availability of tanks, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft and .50 caliber firearms the truth is very few departments EVER request such items, at least not in the manner implied. The tanks are actually armored personnel carriers, very useful in hostage or active shooter scenarios. Grenade launchers are needed for tear gas not explosive rounds. The .50 caliber firearms might be needed for long range sniper deployment but I have never heard of a weaponized aircraft being requested or provided under the 1033 Program.

2. This is hardly an expansion of government power. The current 1033 Program was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, an expansion of the previously in place 1208 Program of 1990. In fact the Department of Defense has been providing military surplus to law enforcement under various programs since 1944.

3. While the federal government may be subsidizing state and local law enforcement they are not allowing militarization. Modern law enforcement has always been a quasi-military organization including uniforms, rank and much of the same equipment. While the 1033 Program allows for cheap equipment, the agency only pays for shipping; it is not the sole source. If an agency really wants an armored personnel carrier and has the money to spare they can simply buy one, probably from the same military vendor, no federal approval needed.

4. The vast majority of equipment obtained is hardly offensive or militaristic in design or appearance. While the big rumbling personnel carriers, long range “high powered” rifles and grenade launchers keep claiming the spotlight this is not what most departments ask for. Body armor, riot gear, sleeping bags and packs make up a large portion of what is actually provided.

5. Everyone benefits from this program. State and local law enforcement obtains equipment they otherwise would be unable to afford. The federal government disposes of surplus equipment they longer need but which has plenty of use still available without throwing it on a scrap heap. The tax payer saves money in both cases. Plus, the public benefits when this equipment allows a situation to be ended, a police officer protected or a member of the public saved.

6. If this equipment is not available those situations requiring its deployment will not simply stop. The only difference will be law enforcement will be ill equipped to respond. What will the options been then? Call out the National Guard? Not only is the National Guard not readily available to assist with police incidents it is not their purpose. Without taking anything away from the great service the National Guard provides I would ask “Is it better to have police with proper equipment or soldiers without the proper training?”

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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