For more than 20 years, the Pentagon program that distributes surplus weapons, aircraft and vehicles to police departments nationwide received little attention or scrutiny. Defense Department officials closely guarded the details of which agencies across the country received which items.
Then, events in Ferguson propelled the 1033 program, as the surplus distribution is called, into the public eye.
Flooded with calls for greater transparency, in late November, the Pentagon quietly released data that details all tactical equipment distributed through the program, and for the first time identified the agencies that received items. The data is a national gift list of high-caliber weapons, armored vehicles, aircraft and similar military equipment, all delivered for the price of shipping and often with little civilian oversight.
The program has doled out $5 billion in equipment since 1990. Most of it was general office and maintenance equipment – shovels, copiers, computers – but the Pentagon largesse included tactical military equipment worth more than $1.4 billion, disseminated in 203,000 transfers to about 7,500 agencies. Even after Ferguson, the program continues to chug along, transferring $28 million in tactical equipment in the past three months.
FK – Find out where they keep it and who has the keys.