The Defense Department has halted issuing weapons to thousands of law enforcement agencies until it is satisfied that states can account for the surplus guns, aircraft, Humvees, and armored personnel carriers it has given police in a $2.6 billion program, the Associated Press reports. The Defense Logistics Agency ordered coordinators in 49 states to certify the whereabouts of that equipment that has already been distributed through the long-running arrangement overseen by the agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office.
The program provides law enforcement agencies with military equipment ranging from guns and helicopters to computers and air conditioners and even toilet paper. The equipment is cheap or free for law enforcement, but much of it comes with strict rules that prohibit it from being sold. News media reports and a series of AP requests for records were factors in the decision to order states to comply with program rules or face suspension. The Arizona Republic said last month that the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has stockpiled millions of dollars’ worth of equipment through the program, distributing some to non-police agencies, and intended to sell other property, which would violate the program’s rules.