Matt Apuso of the New York Times has just published an article on THE UPSHOT detailing information that it received from the Pentagon regarding the transfer of military equipment such as machine guns, night-vision equipment, silencers, armored cars, and aircraft to local and regional police agencies. It is a compelling piece that will help you to track transfers of weapons into your communities since 2006. The original program was created by the Defense Department in the 1990s. Raw data can be found here.
Matt Apuzzo New York Times THE UPSHOT
WASHINGTON — Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
In May, The New York Times requested and received from the Pentagon its database of transfers since 2006. The data underpinned an article in June and helped inform coverage of the police response this month in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.
The Times is now posting the raw data to GitHub here. With this data, which is being posted as it was received, people can see what gear is being used in their communities. The equipment is as varied as guns, computers and socks.
The Pentagon-to-police transfer program is not new. Congress created it during the drug war, as a way to increase police firepower in the fight against drug gangs. But since 9/11, as the Pentagon geared up to fight two wars, then drew down as those wars ended, the amount of available military surplus has ballooned.
Now, after a week of confrontation between protesters in Ferguson and heavily armed police, members of Congress are criticizing the trickle down of military gear.