The Trump administration has said it plans on restoring a program to provide federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with equipment once used by the military; a program once derided by President Barack Obama as presenting the police as an “occupying force.”
Officially curtailed in 2015, the Obama justice department had said the program contributes to a ‘militarization’ of police, saying that armored vehicles, riot shields, helmets, and certain high-caliber weapons were unnecessary for local law enforcement to do their jobs.
Since then, American law enforcement agencies have insisted the equipment, like armored vehicles and night vision devices, helps their officers perform an increasingly dangerous mission, often against heavily armed and violent criminals and terrorists. Without the funding assistance granted by this federal program, already cash-strapped local agencies would have no means to secure such equipment, leaving their officers to train and prepare for active shooter and terrorist attacks with whatever cheap equipment their jurisdiction will let them acquire.
Called the 1033 Program, it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 23, 1996. The most commonly requested items are ammunition, cold weather clothing, sand bags, and medical supplies. Since its inception, the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) has provided more than $6 billion to law enforcement agencies under the 1033 Program.