The Pentagon's 1033 Program, which is militarizing state and local police forces with everything from high-powered firearms to armored vehicles, is also giving weapons to officials who have no law enforcement functions.
The practice is leading watchdogs and even some US government officials to question why the US military is so desperate to unload its cache of used military hardware
that it is even willing to arm a local coroner, and other state and local officials who have no apparent need for firepower.
Doug Wortham is the coroner in Sharp County, Arkansas, whose working day consists of dealing with dead people. Nevertheless, he used the Defense Department's 1033 program to acquire an assault rifle, a handgun and a Humvee.
Explaining his need for the extra firepower, Wortham, who qualified for the program because as a coroner he is invested with the authority to arrest, told AP
: "I just wanted to protect myself."
It was also reported that the coroner's office acquired items through the program but forfeited its rights last year following revelations about some of its procurements, including a kayak.
"Why would a coroner's office need a kayak?" asked Tina Owens, deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, as cited by AP
Civic watchdog groups have been sounding the alarm over the militarization of local and state law enforcement agencies for years. However, the August shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, followed by violent protests that pitted hundreds of protesters against heavily armed police clad in military gear, attracted public attention
to the issue.