© Agence France-Presse/Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezLos Angeles: Police officers keep watch of anti-Wall Street demonstrators as Occupy LA protesters take to the streets around City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, California early on November 28, 2011.
The military-grade pepper-spray that's been all the rage with law enforcement agencies is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an advanced arsenal of weaponry made available to police departments across the country.
It has become clear now that local PDs are stockpiling some seriously dangerous doodads free of cost as part of a little-known program from the Pentagon. You can thank Uncle Sam, the Department of Defense and your own American tax dollars for the 1033 Program, an initiative that is giving hundreds of millions of bucks' worth of military hardware from the DoD and putting it in the hands of your favorite neighborhood cop.
In 2011 alone, the Department of Defense forked over roughly $500 million worth of military machinery to law enforcement agencies coast-to-coast that would have been left otherwise unused. In many instances, however, the goods are grabbed by sheriffs in smaller jurisdictions that don't have much need for the weaponry, other than to install fear within the community. The Daily
reports that, according to documents made available by the Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency, among those items offered up to officers at no cost at all last year were grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles.
The year before, the 1033 Program aided local departments with $212 million in weaponry. So far for Fiscal Year 2012, orders are up more than 400 percent compared with figures from the same time an year earlier.