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Friday, August 22, 2014

Helicopters, assault vehicles and more: The federal arsenal in the hands of local law enforcement

Posted by on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Wake County law enforcement agencies received nine observation helicopters, Orange got two combat assault tactical wheeled vehicles. And in 2013, their counterparts in Harnett County procured extreme cold weather parkas, even though the all-time record low of minus 4 degrees occurred nearly 30 years ago.

Long before police used military-style weapons on protesters Ferguson, Missouri—during the Occupy demonstrations, for example—local police and sheriff's departments have used military gear on their citizens.

First, the ACLU of North Carolina published a report, based on dozens of public records requests, showing that statewide, local police departments are deploying SWAT teams equipped with military-grade weapons primarily to enact drug arrests against people of color.

And this week, Reason.com linked to a file containing a nationwide, county-by-county list of weapons obtained by local law enforcement agencies  under the federal 1033 program. That program allows the U.S. Department of Defense to offer surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies "for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations and to enhance officer safety."

(However, law enforcement agencies are also getting gym equipment and office furniture. Doctors say sitting will kill you.)

Here's a partial list of what Triangle-area law enforcement agencies have received since 2006, with their acquisition value. (Go to the file linked above for the full rundown). Please note these are itemized by county, not law enforcement agency. There is no information about which agency received a given piece of equipment. Items that went to a county could have been given to a state agency based in that county, for example.

* Some items cost less depending on when they were purchased. Numbers have been rounded.

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