Military-grade equipment distributed to Colo. police

KUSA – Colorado's law enforcement agencies have acquired a vast arsenal of military-grade weapons, vehicles and equipment since 1999 under a Department of Defense program that promises to come under increased scrutiny following the response to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

An investigation by 9Wants to Know reveals, among other things, police departments from Burlington to La Plata County have received 1,160 M-16s and eight mine resistant vehicles since the inception of DOD's 1033 Program.

The 1033 Program, authorized by Congress in the early 90s, was initially designed to transfer excess military property to federal and state agencies for use in counter-drug activities. In 1997, under Congress' National Defense Authorization Act, the program spread to local law enforcement agencies.

Since then, law enforcement agencies have used the program to stockpile everything from rifles and armored personnel carriers to tents and cold-weather gear.

Following a request under Colorado's Open Records Act, 9Wants to Know began analyzing the data accumulated under the eye of the Colorado State Patrol. In all, the Colorado State Patrol reports Colorado law enforcement agencies have received more than $22 million in excess military property.

The vast majority of the property has poured into the state during the last three years – not unexpected as the military continues to draw down its presence in the Middle East.

While most law enforcement agencies in Colorado have tried to take advantage of the program, a few rural agencies have been quite busy over the last few years gathering military equipment. The Florence Police Department in Fremont County tops the list. Under the 1033 Program, it has received more than $3.7 million in excess property since 2003.

Florence, which borders the Federal Supermax Prison, now has a $700,000 mine resistant vehicle (or MRAP), two $200,000 armored vehicles, one dump truck, and 10 M-16's courtesy of the 1033 Program. While local law enforcement agencies must pay for delivery, the 1033 Program allows agencies to obtain the property free of charge.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Find an interactive map of military equipment given to county police here

Here are some other examples of Colorado agencies obtaining equipment from the Department of Defense:

  • Burlington Police: 4 M-16s
  • Cedaredge (population 2,206): 4 M-16s
  • Colorado Springs Police: 140 M-16s
  • Denver Sheriff: 50 M-16s
  • Eaton (population 4,500): 4 M-16s
  • Greeley PD: 71 M-16s, 2 bomb robots, 1 MRAP
  • Johnstown (population 11,000): 13 M-16s, 25 tourniquets
  • La Plata County: 3 bomb robots, armored truck ($65,000), 4 night vision sniperscopes
  • Lafayette PD: 40 M-16s
  • Log Lane Village (population 878): 4 M-14s
  • Morrison: Grenade launcher (typically used to deploy smoke and/or tear gas)
  • Mountain View PD (population 512): 10 M-16s (pending transfer according to Colorado State Patrol)
  • Park County SO: 4 Trucks
  • UNC Police Dept: 3 M-16s
  • Wray PD (population 2364): 3 M-16s

Nine Colorado communities now have MRAP's. Those communities include: Aurora PD, Florence PD, Greeley PD, La Plata County Sheriff's Office, Montrose PD, Pueblo PD, Vail PD, Weld County Sheriff's Office and the Yuma County Sheriff's Office.

The 1033 Program has come under increased national scrutiny following the heavy police presence during the recent riots in Missouri. Numerous members of Congress have since asked for a review of the program.


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