Our new investigation looks at a Department of Defense program that allows local police departments around the country to receive free new and used military surplus gear. The equipment bazaar is another sign of how aggressively some police departments increasingly resemble small armies. Civilian law enforcement have equipped themselves with assault-style weapons and even tanks, first as part of the war on drugs and later in the name of fighting terrorism.
Police nationwide sought $498 million worth of equipment, including 60 aircraft and thousands more weapons than in 2010. For example, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department took control of this $4 million patrol boat in 2005.