Militarizing the local police
Perhaps one of the few positive developments (if that’s possible) that have come out of the events in Ferguson, Missouri has been a growing discussion of the increased militarization of local police forces. The New York Times recently researched who has gotten what from the 1033 program that provides used military equipment to local police and has an excellent interactive map here. Using the Times research as a starting point, West Virginia Public Broadcasting provides a breakdown of West Virginia counties here. Its story on the transfer of military weapons begins:
Over 500 weapons and hundreds more pieces of military-grade tactical equipment have been transferred to the state of West Virginia since 2006 through a Department of Defense program known as the 1033 program.
Clicking on their interactive map yields the following:
For Ohio County: 28 assault rifles
For Marshall County: 9 assault rifles and 5 shotguns
For Brooke and Hancock Counties: no weapons or equipment
And for Belmont County, Ohio (using the Times research): 53 assault rifles, 37 pistols, and 1 armored vehicle
Here’s WV public broadcasting’s summary:
A Quick Look at LESO Transfers to West Virginia Through 1033 Program Since 2006:
Kanawha Co. received over 600 weapons and pieces of equipment through the program.
Wood Co. received 34 assault rifles, 185 pieces of night vision equipment, and 40 pieces of body armor.
Two grenade launchers have been issued through the program to law enforcement in West Virginia, with one going to Berkeley County and another to Cabell.
McDowell Co. was the only county to receive a Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.
20 of West Virginia's counties received no weapons or equipment through the 1033 program.
Grenade launchers? An MRAP vehicle? Assault rifles? Perhaps its time for the local citizenry to start asking "why?"