Tracking Military Weaponry Flowing To America's Local Police Departments

Authored by Adam Andrzejewski via,

Last  week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump's plan to distribute military gear to state and local law enforcement agencies.

The rule change means weapons typically reserved for war-time use – tracked armored (tank-like) vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vessels, grenade launchers, bayonets, and firearms with ammunition of .50-caliber or higher – will start flowing to local law enforcement agencies through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program.

Yes, the story is familiar. In 2016, we sounded the alarm at Forbesabout the Obama administration sending heavy weapons to local police departments.

We noted that people of good faith on both the left and right were raising serious concerns regarding civil liberties and the growth of government.

Today, the same questions are valid: What’s the legitimate law enforcement purpose for these weapons? Does the militarization of local police threaten our civil liberties?

Search our OpenTheBooks interactive map for all weaponry transferred to the 6,500 local, state and other federal police agencies across America since 2006.

See it all – in your hometown, park district, forest preserve, junior college, university, county, state police – or federal agency such as Homeland Security, Interior and the Justice Department – across any ZIP code!

What military gear will you find in your local police department? Here’s a sample of our findings:

  • In Illinois, the College of DuPage received 14 fully automatic M16 rifles. The police department in Wheaton (pop. 53,000) picked up 68 M16 and M14 rifles plus five pistols (.45 caliber). Evanston – a small community known to promote gun control ordinances – procured 20 M16 rifles.
  • Paducah County, Kentucky, (pop. 25,000) received 78 M16 rifles and one mine-resistant vehicle while the Georgetown Police Department (pop. 33,000) procured 77 M16 and M14 rifles, 40 pistols (.45 caliber), and one mine-resistant vehicle.
  • In California, the Cotati Police Department (pop. 7,500) received 13 M16 rifles and Del Norte County (pop. 27,000) received 25 M16 rifles. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department procured $3.6 million in surplus equipment including 768 M16 rifles.
  • In Ohio, the Department of Natural Resources received 240 fully automatic M16 and M14 rifles. Why? To enforce hunting laws?
  • Mine-resistant armored vehicles (49) were transferred to many small towns and counties in Florida including Baker County (pop. 27,000), Leesburg (pop. 22,400), Hallandale Beach (37,113), and Suwannee County (pop. 43,000).

Even sovereign Native American police agencies are procuring serious military gear. Here are some examples:

  • In Oklahoma, the Comanche Nation Police Department received nearly $3.5 million in military gear including mine-resistant vehicles, military cargo trucks, tractor trucks and night vision goggles.
  • The Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police received nearly $435,000 in gear including mine-resistant vehicles, infrared illuminators, night vision goggles, a mine-detecting set, and thermal sights.
  • The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service received two mine-resistant vehicles ($1.1 million).
  • In Colorado, the Indian Tribes Police Department received a helicopter worth $190,817.

Last year, citizen outrage helped shut down a local police departmentin Illinois after we released our OpenTheBooks Snapshot Report – The Militarization of Local Police Departments. We revealed that the police in London Mills (pop. 381) acquired $201,445 in military equipment including rifles, generators, trucks, and Humvees.

Here is an updated summary of the 1.5 million pieces of military weaponry and equipment distributed to law enforcement agencies from 2006 through June 30, 2017:

  • 7,828 trucks ($458.9 million), 865 mine-resistant vehicles ($593 million); 502 helicopters ($170.2 million); 335 armored cars and trucks ($22.5 million); and 57 airplanes ($293.5 million).
  • 83,122 M16/M14 rifles (5.56mm and 7.62mm) ($31.2 million); 8,198 pistols (.38, .40, and .45 caliber) ($491,769); and 1,385 riot 12-guage shotguns ($25,357).
  • 20,297 night-vision sights, sniper scopes, binoculars, goggles, and image magnifiers ($108.2 million); 6,388 infrared, articulated, panoramic and laser telescopes ($2.1 million).
  • 875 mine detecting sets, marking kits, and probes ($913,044) and 58 grenade launchers ($41,683).
  • 6,020 bayonets ($308,175) and 57 swords and scabbards.

Florida ranks first among states in the receipt of military gear since 2006 (more than $292 million in gear). Items include 4,198 transfers of M16 and M14 rifles (5.56mm and 7.62mm) across the state. For example, the state highway patrol received 1,815 M16/M14 rifles, plus six military-armored vehicles, three Mine Resistant Vehicles and three Complete Combat/Assault/Tactical Wheeled Vehicles.

Over the past 18 months, however, Tennessee has led the charge by receiving $52 million in military equipment. In just 18 months, 26 mine-resistant vehicles have been distributed to small town police departments in Tennessee such as Waverly (pop. 4,100); Pigeon Forge (pop. 6,200); Perry County (pop. 7,900); Lenoir City (pop. 9,100); and Brownsville (pop: 9,780).

California has received nearly $43 million while Texas and Alabama have procured about $33 million each.

In the first five months of 2017, local and state law enforcement agencies received mine-resistant vehicles, taser guns, rifles, bayonets, armored vehicles, helicopters and thousands of other types of military equipment. The Department of Defense distributed 275,999 pieces of surplus military equipment worth $127 million.

Last week’s policy change announced by AG Sessions puts prohibited war weapons back on the table. It is therefore more important than ever that citizens investigate and ask hard questions of their local police departments.

We must demand answers: What is the legitimate public purpose for local police agencies to possess military weaponry? Is this in best interests of taxpayers? And is it in the best interests of our civil liberties?


Bill of Rights Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:01 Permalink

July factory orders and revisions to durable goods orders

  • Prior was +3.0%
  • Factory orders ex transport +0.5% vs -0.2% prior

Durable goods orders revisions:

  • Durable goods orders -6.8% vs -6.8% initially reported
  • Prior was +6.4%
  • Ex transportation +0.6% vs +0.5% initially
  • Prior ex transport +0.1%
  • Capital goods orders nondefense ex air +1.0% vs +0.4% initially
  • Prior capital goods orders 0.0%
  • Capital goods shipments nondefense ex air +1.2% vs +1.0% initially
  • Prior shipments +0.6%

The revision to capital goods orders nondefense ex air along with strong factory orders ex-transport is a good sign for Q3 and Q4. 

BlindMonkey Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:02 Permalink

Man, We need to buy a small town and get in on some of these goodies that are they are giving away. We can call it "Hedgeville" and the cop shop would be stacked with boomsticks.  

Duc888 Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:04 Permalink

   Just an off the cuff search of Claremont NH, They've got about 30+ Night Vision scopes and monoculars...and a bunch of Carbines.  NH, by and large apparently got very few armored vehicles.  Claremont got 2 "utility vehicles"....pretty non descript.

samsara Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:10 Permalink

So Jeffy,  any news on Seth Rich or Pedophile ring, or Hillary, or Pedesta?Nah, just keep doing the Asset Forfeiture and people smoking joints, That will fix things.

Deep In Vocal … (not verified) Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:14 Permalink

the filthy disgusting trumper.. do you realize what you have done? you fucking lunatic.... you should be shot in the head you fucking traitor....dont worry the police state will take care of that you filthy fucking creature.... keep voting you fucking dumb idiot....complete fucking crazy in the head fucking delusional idiot

Cardinal Fang Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:16 Permalink

And, of course, regular inventory checks and reports to the residents.

I can see an image in my mind of a cop eating a donut off a bayonet stacked to the top with donuts.

Golden Showers Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:17 Permalink

All this surplus shit really ought to go to taxpayers who "paid" for it. As much as I back the Blue, it's law abiding citizens who should benefit as well from cast off military shit. Matter of fact, I am all for army basic training for every adult at 18 with an option to serve in the military, or do public service work for one year. But that's just me.

unsafe-space-time Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:19 Permalink

Anyone with a gun who thinks they need cops is more stupid and mentally ill than a libfag. Modern police state mentality started with organized crime which started with the immigration problem