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Trump revives 1033 program, giving police access to military gear, MRAPs

Trump revives 1033 program, giving police access to military gear, MRAPs
Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 28, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday reviving a Department of Defense program that allowed police departments to receive surplus military equipment.

The DoD’s 1033 Excess Property Program was curtailed by President Barack Obama in May 2015 following a recommendation by a taskforce he convened to look at the program, in part due to criticism of perceived militarization of the police following 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

The program itself was created in 1997 under President Bill Clinton to allow the DOD to transfer excess military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies at extremely reduced or even no cost.

The 1033 program gave police departments access to cold weather gear, sleeping bags, flashlight and medical supplies – but also things like night vision equipment, helicopters and M79 grenade launchers.

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The most visible effect of the program was the acquisition of mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) by police departments all over the country. The vehicles were designed to protect troops from IEDs during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

By the time of the unrest in Ferguson in fall 2014, eight Indiana counties -- Johnson, St. Joseph, Jefferson, Morgan, Tippecanoe, Lake, Pulaski and Vigo counties – had received MRAPs.

Between 2006 and late 2014, Marion County received more than $1.5 million-worth of military equipment, including two armored personnel carriers and 362 guns. As a whole, the eight donut counties received more than $3.7 million from the 1033 program during that time period.

A spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said the agency wasn’t given advance notice about the executive order. IMPD said it has received armored vehicles from the program in the past but that the department no longer has them.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to a gathering of the national Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, said the president’s executive order was intended to “make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities.”

The executive order also drew a quick response from civil rights groups who applauded Obama’s original decision to curtail the 1033 program.

“Three years ago this month, the nation witnessed a highly militarized, violent crackdown by police on protesters in Ferguson,” ACLU legislative counsel Kanya Bennett wrote in a statement Monday. “Today’s executive order erases the sensible limits placed by the Obama administration after Ferguson on the kinds of military equipment flowing from the federal government to local police and into our neighborhoods. Tensions between law enforcement and communities remain high, yet the president and the attorney general are giving the police military-grade weaponry instead of practical, effective ways to protect and serve everyone.”

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