Question: How does giving military equipment, paid for with our tax dollars, to local law enforcement “save taxpayer money?
Answer: Darned if I know.
Yet on 8/27/17, saving “taxpayer money” is exactly what Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated will happen once local law enforcement again starts acquiring “excess military equipment.” Also known as “castoff equipment and “assets that would otherwise be scrapped.”
There are also various euphemisms that describe this process:
- CBS News online talked about “law enforcement’s ability to acquire” and also used the word “transfer.”
- The Chicago Tribune online included the phrase “restore the flow of surplus military equipment.”
- NPR online corrected an NPR radio story which apparently indicated that “police departments again will be able to purchase” and instead called them “military transfers.”
- The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted documents obtained by The Associated Press which used the word “repurpose.”
- CNN online referred to a program “that provides local law enforcement agencies…”
All of this is another way of saying “give,” which Sessions was careful not to say.
Give surplus military equipment, paid for by us taxpayers, to local law enforcement.
Now, wiser heads than mine have debated, and will continue to debate, the wisdom of giving military equipment to our police departments.
I’ll leave the debate to those wiser heads. I have different issues:
- Why do we have “excess military equipment”?
- Which bozos are over-ordering this stuff?
- Why, if not given to police departments, will it “otherwise be scrapped?” Aren’t we currently fighting wars in several locations?
- What kinds of equipment and what did it cost us taxpayers?
The answers to some of these are easy to find. On a government website – the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) – I learned about something called the 1033 Program which originated from the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1997:
“Since its inception, the program has transferred more than $6 billion worth of property.”
Now, I had trouble visualizing just how much $6 billion is, until I found this:
The length of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) one dollar bills laid end-to-end measures 96,900 miles. This would extend around the earth almost 4 times.
Multiply that one billion by six = extend around the earth almost 24 times. That’s a big bunch of bucks.
The DLA’s LESO website goes on to assure us,
“No equipment is purchased for distribution. All items were excess which had been turned in by military units or had been held as part of reserve stocks until no longer needed.”
“Held as part of reserve stocks” means, of course – unused.
This equipment – called “Controlled Equipment” – includes:
|Manned Aircraft, fixed or rotary wing||Command and Control Vehicles|
|Unmanned Aerial Vehicles||Beaching Apparatus|
|Wheeled Armored Vehicles||Riot Batons|
|Wheeled Tactical Vehicles||Riot Helmets|
|Specialized Firearms and Ammunition Under .50 Cal (excluded firearms and ammunition for service-issued weapons)||Riot Shields|
Seriously? The military has all this stuff just lying around?
Seriously. It does.
Bottom line: Our government has transferred/repurposed/restored the flow of/provided/given $6+ billion of your and my tax dollars in military equipment to local law enforcement.
Darned if I know why no one from the DLA or the LESO or any other federal government acronym didn’t contact me beforehand about this. Hey – I’m not fussy; an email, a text, even a Tweet would have been appreciated. Such as,
And look – I did it in less than 140 characters!
Well, perhaps the folks at the DLA and LESO were too busy putting together their brochure, which features some of the “Controlled Equipment” available – here’s just one page:
Isn’t this great? Can’t you just see the caption for this one?
Here’s an idea: Rather than transferring/repurposing/restoring the flow of/providing/giving this stuff, how about if we get that money back by selling it on eBay? For instance, a bullet-proof vest, also known in the military as a Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) and its lightweight alternative, the Scalable Plate Carrier (SPC). Those things never go out of style.
Here’s a nice Eagle Industries SPC, originally $1,199, but their low price: just $749. Of course we know the bozo buyers paid WAY more than that:
But look! On eBay I can sell an Eagle Industries SPC for $480!
So if our government sold just…um…12,500,000 at $480 each, we’d get back that $6 billion!
Heads up, Jeff Sessions! That’s how you “save taxpayer money”! The money could come back to us taxpayers as a tax credit and – instant tax reform!
No. On August 29 the President signed an Executive Order to transfer/repurpose/ restore the flow of/provide/give surplus military gear to local police departments.
And as for question #2 above, Which bozos are over-ordering this stuff?
Darned if I know.