We all know about “Toys for Tots.” This is “Toys for Big Tots.” Mini-tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters: they are all sold at discount by the U.S. government. Local police departments buy them.
Think of this as yard sales for cops.
Over the last five years, the top 10 beneficiaries of this “Department of Defense Excess Property Program” included small agencies such as the Fairmount Police Department. It serves 7,000 people in northern Georgia and received 17,145 items from the military. The cops in Issaquah, Washington, a town of 30,000 people, acquired more than 37,000 pieces of gear.
In 2011 alone, more than 700,000 items were transferred to police departments for a total value of $500 million. This year, as of May 15, police departments already acquired almost $400 million worth of stuff.
What do local police departments do with this equipment? Nobody seems to know.
Maybe they are getting prepared for the Cripps and Bloods.
Who trains the local police in the correct use of these weapons? No one.
Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, bought a used helicopter for $7,500. It cost $100,000 to upgrade. It also costs $20,000 a year to maintain it.
Lebanon, Tennessee, a town of fewer than 30,000 people, has bought $4 million worth of goodies. A tank, an LAV 150, has been used only five or six times.
Atlanta has an amphibious armored tank. It is not clear why.
Worth half a million dollars, and equipped with thermal sensors, computerized tracking devices, night vision, tear-gas launchers and other gadgets, the LAV 300 was obtained in 2008 and has enjoyed an easy ride ever since. “Nobody has ever taken a shot at it nor has anybody ever taken a shot from it,” Sgt. Dana Pierce, spokesman for the Cobb County Police, told Danger Room.
I can believe that.
Cobb County bought so many AR-15 automatic rifles that every squad car can carry one.
Local police forces are buying military gear. Why? What are they preparing for? Nothing in particular? Is taxpayer money this easy to spend? What about the budget crisis?