Sheriff’s Dept. and Local Police Agencies Return Military Items to the Feds
(C. Proxmire, Dec. 3, 2015)
Pontiac, MI – Across the county, local law enforcement agencies are turning in their armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bayonets, high caliber rifles and other items that are now prohibited or controlled as acquisitions from Federal agencies due to Executive Order 13688.
The issue of police militarization has come to public attention in recent years, most notably with the police response to protesters after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on Aug. 9, 2014. There armored vehicles and police in military gear had a bold, millitary-like presence as they tried to control protesting and rioting.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force — as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” the President said earlier this year, adding that such gear “can alienate and intimidate residents and make them feel scared.”
According to an NBC News report, “Local law enforcement agencies have been eligible to receive surplus military equipment through a Defense Department program enacted in 1997.” Program 1033 has handed down surplus equipment to over 8,000 local agencies. Items can include things like cold weather clothing, lighting, wiring, night vision goggles and utility vehicles to guns, grande launchers, and armored vehicles.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is one of those agencies.
A database by a nonprofit called Marshall Project outlined many items the department received under the program, including an M-113 armored personnel carrier that Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was forced to return under the Executive Order.
The carrier can offer police and command protection in dangerous situations. While it looks like a giant tank, without a barrel on the top it does not have that classification.
Sheriff Bouchard is one of many law enforcement leaders through the country that has spoken publicly against the equipment recall. A statement issued by The Major County Sheriffs’ Association (MCSA) includes a quote from him.
“The recall of certain types of controlled equipment will undoubtedly leave America’s law enforcement less prepared and at a disadvantage to protect local communities from active shooters, terror attacks and dangerous situations.
“As recent events have shown, acts of terror and active shooters in the homeland are real and tangible. When an emergency arises, federal officials and the military are not the first to respond – local law enforcement are and as such, need to be adequately prepared to properly address the situation at hand,” the MCSA statement said.
“We hope and pray to never have one of these situations but in our business hope is not a strategy. Preparation is. Two events this week have shown the need for such equipment and now communities all across America are having a lifesaving tool removed due to a perpetuated false perception, not a reality,” Bouchard said.
Active shooter situations are becoming more and more common. The Washington Post reports that a mass shooting incident in San Berardino, CA on Wednesday that left 14 people dead was the 355th mass shooting in the United States so far this year. And even in cases where it is unclear what the danger is, armored vehicles and protective gear can make law enforcement officers more safe.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, about 50 officers are fatally shot each year in the United States in the line of duty. Oakland County has seen it’s share of death, including the 2004 murder of Hazel Park Officer Jessica Nagle-Wilson who was shot while responding to a complaint about a dog not being on a leash, the 2008 murder of Oak Park Officer Mason Samborski who was killed in Dec. 2008, and West Bloomfield Sgt. Patrick O’Rourke who was murdered in 2012 while responding to a barricaded gunman situation.
While it may help protect police and provide tools for public safety, the debate is over where the line is between protection and intimidation. The ACLU released a report in June 2014 called “War Comes Home,” that looks at the effects of using military-like tactics in residential communities.
According to NPR, the order does not prohibit agencies from obtaining such items, but it does bar them from obtaining them through Federal agencies or by using Federal funds.
The MCSA questioned the order, further stating “The Administration’s Executive Order 13688 and subsequent recall of 1033 controlled military surplus equipment is designed to severely restrict access to and usage of life saving equipment. While the ultimate goals of law enforcement remain the same: to protect the public; to solve, deter and respond to criminal acts; and to enforce the law in a responsible and constitutional manner, the Administration has sought to inappropriately legislate through perception at the cost of public safety.
According to the Marshall Project, other local agencies have also received military surplus equipment over the years. According to a Deadline Detroit compilation of the data, done in 2014, the following departments have gotten equipment:
Beverly Hills – 6 7.62mm rifles
Clawson – 17 5.56 mm rifles
Farmington – numerous items, but no guns, including 25 modular sleep systems, lighting equipment and 50 sleeping mats
Ferndale – 10 7.62 mm rifles
Lake Angelus – 13 5.56 mm rifles
Lake Orion – 15 5.56 mm rifles
Lathrup Village 15 5.56 mm rifles
Madison Heights – 1 armored truck
Novi – 1 utility truck
Oxford – several items including 15 taser guns and 7 5.56 mm rifles
Royal Oak – 3 5.56 mm rifles, 5 7.62 mm rifles
Sylvan Lake – 4 7.62 mm rifles
Troy – 45 sight reflexes, 1 utility truck
Waterford – 18 5.56 mm rifles, 3 7.62 mm rifles, 1 night vision sight
Wixom – 1 mine resistant vehicle, 2 utility trucks, 1 accessories stowage box
Below is the list for Oakland County:
|NIGHT VISION GOGGLE||250||$1,500,000.00|
|TOOL KIT,TACTICAL RESCUE||6||$131,062.50|
|MAK KIT,PERIMETER WITH UNDER CARRIAGE ARMOR||2||$67,368.00|
|GENERATOR SET,DIESEL ENGINE||11||$52,311.70|
|ARMOR SET,SUPPLEMENTAL,SMALL ARMS-FRAGMENTATION PROTECTIVE||2||$38,498.00|
|TOOL KIT,FULL TRACKED VEHICLE||2||$37,512.00|
|LIGHT AIMING KIT,INFRARED||6||$21,531.24|
|BAYONET AND SCABBARD||400||$20,324.00|
|KIT ASSEMBLY,CARGO BODY WITH BALLISTIC WINDOWS MAK 2-DOOR,HMMWV||2||$18,885.68|
|ADJUSTER ASSEMBLY,AIMING LIGHT||11||$14,322.00|
|THERMACAM CAMERA E,||1||$11,830.00|
|SIGHT,NIGHT VISION SNIPERSCOPE||16||$10,365.28|
|LOCK SET,VEHICULAR DOOR||12||$9,732.36|
|MODIFICATION KIT,VEHICULAR EQUIPMENT COMPONENTS||6||$9,202.86|
|NIGHT VISION SIGHT||4||$8,832.00|
|IMAGE INTENSIFIER,NIGHT VISION||1||$7,026.00|
|SPECTACLES SET,BALLISTIC PROTECTIVE||420||$6,469.40|
|TOOL KIT,REFRIGERATION EQUIPMENT||1||$5,449.00|
|MEDICAL AND SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS||1||$4,680.27|
|DESC=THUMBDRIVE USB BIOMETRIC||74||$4,472.56|
|MAINTENANCE KIT,ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT||1||$3,644.00|
|COMPUTER SYSTEMS LAPTOP||2||$3,397.12|
|SPARE PARTS KIT||10||$3,272.10|
|LINER,COMBAT VEHICLE CREWMAN’S HELMET||5||$2,791.40|
|PARTS KIT,VEHICULAR WHEEL||10||$2,767.50|
|TRANSFER TRANSMISSION ASSEMBLY||2||$2,700.00|
|MODULAR SLEEP SYSTEM||10||$2,630.50|
|TOOL KIT,TURRET MECHANIC’S||1||$2,362.00|
|TRANSFER AND CONTAI||1||$1,400.00|
|CHEST,MEDICAL INSTRUMENT AND SUPPLY SET||3||$1,223.37|
|TOOL KIT,PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT||1||$761.04|
|SHELTER,ICS IMPROVED COMBAT SHELTER||2||$599.30|
|BAG,NUCLEAR,BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE CLOTHING OUTFIT||5||$539.35|
|LASER BORESIGHT SYSTEM (LBS)||1||$538.13|
|SPECTACLES,BALLISTIC AND LASER PROTECTIVE||22||$445.06|
|PUMP ASSEMBLY,POWER STEERING,VEHICULAR||1||$386.13|
|RUCKSACK LARGE FIELD PACK||4||$333.44|
|REMOVAL TOOL,BEARING SEAL||1||$329.60|
|WRENCH SET,COMBINATION BOX AND OPEN END||1||$289.43|
|JACKET,EXTREME COLD WEATHER||1||$144.38|
|PIN,FIRING PIN RETAINER||200||$108.00|
The prohibitions require departments to give up the following items if acquired through the 1033 program:
~Tracked Armored Vehicles: Vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants and utilize a tracked system instead of wheels for forward motion.
~Weaponized Aircraft, Vessels, and Vehicles of Any Kind: These items will be prohibited from purchase or transfer with weapons installed.
~Firearms of .50 ‐ Caliber or Higher
~Ammunition of .50 ‐ Caliber or Higher
~Grenade Launchers: Firearm or firearm accessory designed to launch small explosive projectiles.
~Bayonets: Large knives designed to be attached to the muzzle of a rifle/shotgun/long gun for the purposes of hand ‐ to ‐ hand combat.
~Camouflage Uniforms: Does not include woodland or desert patterns or solid color uniforms.
To learn more about Executive Order 13688, see the White House document https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/le_equipment_wg_final_report_final.pdf.