No one has bothered to limit military-grade weapons to censured civilian departments:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Pentagon program that distributes military surplus gear to local law enforcement allows even departments that the Justice Department has censured for civil rights violations to apply for and get lethal weaponry.
That lack of communication between two Cabinet agencies adds to questions about a program under review in the aftermath of the militarized police response to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Pentagon, which provides the free surplus military equipment, says its consultation with the Justice Department will be looked at as the government reviews how to prevent high-powered weaponry from flowing to the untrustworthy.
The Justice Department has opened civil rights investigations into the practices of some 20 police departments in the past five years, with the Ferguson force the latest. The investigations sometimes end in negotiated settlements known as consent decrees that mandate reforms. Yet being flagged as problematic by Washington does not bar a police department from participating in the program.
“Given the fact that they’re under a consent decree it would make sense that the Department of Defense and Department of Justice coordinate on any such requests, (but) that is currently not the state,” said Jim Bueermann, who heads the nonprofit Police Foundation.