Florida International University campus police have military-grade rifles. Ohio State has a Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicle. And Florida State has a brand new Army Humvee. These Pentagon hand-me-downs are just a few examples of the militarization of local police that has extended to college campuses — raising fresh questions about exactly why police departments would need such defense-grade hardware.
The Defense Department has been redistributing surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies since the early ’90s. But the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri — intensified by local cops’ use of tanks and gas masks and their participation in the federal program — prompted President Barack Obama on Saturday to order a review of its appropriateness.
Most items distributed through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office go to state and municipal government agencies. But a recent Freedom of Information Act request by MuckRock revealed that more than 100 college campuses with sworn-in police departments also participate in the 1033 program as of last December.