The fact that the acquisition of military vehicles in Keene has not created more turmoil in the community upsets me.
It seems like this is an “out of sight, out of mind” issue.
When observing the incidents of Ferguson, M.O., many U.S. citizens are probably thinking “Well, this could never occur in my own home town.”
Meanwhile, what is actually happening is local law enforcement across the country are stockpiling new gear and advanced weaponry.
The recent protests in Ferguson, M.O. are looking more like a military occupation than a police intervention.
With images of armored vehicles blockading suburban streets and officers wielding assault rifles patrolling neighborhoods—one might wonder where all this funding for firepower comes from.
The answer is simple: it’s all free. Through the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, local law enforcement departments gain access to an online superstore where requests can be made for items such as armored tanks and grenade launchers.
This program has come to be known as the 1033 program.
The 1033 program is responsible for $4.3 billion worth of equipment, according to a report done by the American Civil Liberties Union.
It seems a little too ridiculous to be true, but the entire program and website can be viewed by any American civilian by going to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services website.
The basis of the 1033 program dates back to the year 1990 when Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the pretense for this act was in response to the escalating drug war within the United States.
Since the war on drugs uses the word “war,” the United States government took the initiative to equip local law enforcement officers as soldiers.
Coming from a small New Hampshire town, one would think that the 1033 program has had little effect on the Keene police force.
This is untrue.
Every Keene State College student has either heard or witnessed the Keene Police Department’s new toy, the Bearcat.
The Bearcat in Keene, N.H., is the same exact model of the police vehicles one would see in headline images of the Ferguson protest coverage.
Both vehicles are the same model: a mine-resistant, ambush-protected, vehicle [MRAP].
Many might question what classifies locations to be allowed access to the 1033 program and it’s simple.
Since all of this equipment is justified in the war for drugs, any police department with any drug problems as harmless as marijuana are allowed access to items as dangerous as grenade launchers.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency 60 percent of the U.S. population lives within high-intensity drug trafficking areas, which are allowed access to the 1033 program.
In response to the issues that continue in Ferguson, President Obama has ordered a complete review of the entire program.
There should be a definitive line between local law enforcement and military resources.
If this line continues to be blurred it seems more like the war-on-drugs is turning into the war-on-free-speech and right to lawful protest.
Samuel Douglass can be contacted at email@example.com