Two Colorado law enforcement agencies have been banned from requesting any more free military equipment from the Department of Defense.
The Colorado State Patrol and the Sedgewick County Sheriff’s Department were suspended from the DOD “1033” program earlier this year after purchasing a number of military-grade weapons and equipment, KMGH-TV learned after a CALL7 investigation.
An annual inventory audit in early 2014 found that the State Patrol lost an M-16 assault rifle it received from the DOD in 2007.
The audit is required to participate in the 1033 program.
In February, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office was suspended from 1033, but Sheriff Randy Peck argues that his department never lost anything. The DOD says suspension occurs when items are lost.
CALL7 investigators also learned that suspended agencies aren’t required to hand over the military weapons or vehicles back to the government. When suspended, it is not allowed to request additional free equipment until the missing items are located.
More than $4.3 billion worth of military weapons and equipment have been sent to local and state law enforcement agencies since 1990.
Critics say the program has “over-militarized” local police departments.
An investigation of Colorado law enforcement conducted by 9News.com found that 1,160 M-16s and eight mine-resistant vehicles were acquired by law enforcement under 1033. Florence Police Department in Fremont County alone has received more than $3.7 million in excess property since 2003.
The program was originally supposed to redistribute military-grade weapons to fight drugs locally. But instead agencies appear to be “stockpiling” weapons, 9News.com reported.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / The U.S. Army