US equips police with military weapons
File photo shows US police.
A rapidly expanding US Pentagon program is equipping police forces, many in small towns, with second-hand battlefield-grade weaponry.
The US Department of Defense distributed USD 500 million worth of used military gear to police forces in 2011, through the “1033 program”, The Daily reported.
The dramatically growing figure sets a new record for the program, in comparison with distributions worth USD 212 million in 2010.
The distributions include grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles, and armored vehicles.
According to data provided by the Pentagon Defense Logistics Agency, orders in fiscal year 2012 have jumped by 400 percent over the same period in 2011.
Over 17,000 law-enforcement agencies have ordered USD 2.6 billion worth of tools, paying for delivery costs only.
The rise in the orders of weaponry comes as US crime rates have fallen to 40-year lows.
The "1033 program" was passed by Congress in 1997, aiming at providing law-enforcement agencies with equipment to fight drugs and terrorism.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), US sales of foreign arms remained above USD 30 billion after it reached USD 31.6 billion in fiscal year 2010. The figure for 2011 has reached USD 34.8 billion.