Initiatives to rein in the militarization of police departments have been discussed by politicians in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont. They face an uphill battle, in part because of the administrative route that law enforcement uses to acquire the gear, reports Stateline.org.
The equipment flows through a Pentagon surplus operation known as the 1033 Program, which makes available gear that the military no longer wants. Local agencies — including state and local police, and others such as natural resources departments — make requests through a designated state coordinator who has final say on approvals. There's no federal requirement for state or local lawmaker approval or oversight, and any gear distributed is free of charge. Police say it's an invaluable program. But others see it as a shadowy operation that lacks oversight. One political opponent of 1033 calls the program “a workaround.”