Military Gear Program
Did you ever wonder how and why police departments have so much military gear? Aren’t tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas actually military weapons that are reserved for warfare against other countries and not to be used against your own people? Well the reason that police forces have so much military hear is due to the federal Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program. This program gives excess military equipment that might otherwise be destroyed to law enforcement agencies across the country for FREE. All of this equipment is simply given, not sold, to law enforcement agencies. The military equipment that is donated would include clothing, office supplies, tools, vehicles, and guns etc. Since the beginning of the program, LESO has transferred more than $7 billion worth of military gear to law enforcement agencies nationwide. That is $7 billion in tax-payer money that could be used on items that aren’t directed at your citizens. Items that are obtained through LESO can be sold off after one year as long as the money is then put back into the police department for improvements. The LESO program has contributed to police departments nationwide acting more as a militarized unit of control, as opposed to a community service-oriented agency aimed at protecting its people. A bipartisan group of congressmen are making a push to change or shut down the LESO program because of the way these military weapons are being used against Americans.
In the state of Michigan, the LESO program has been a big donor of military equipment to local and state police forces. Almost 300 Michigan police departments take from LESO. Since 1997, these departments have received nearly $50 million worth of military equipment through LESO. Collectively, the following items are valued at around $13 million which were obtained from LESO:
• 35 mine-resistant vehicles
• 40 unmanned ground vehicles
• 11 armored trucks and 89 utility trucks
• Nearly 3,000 rifles; both semi-automatic and fully automatic
• 3 helicopters to the Michigan State Police
• 2 helicopters to the Detroit Police Department
Note: this does not include the thousands of rain-proof blankets, boots, bandages, computers, chairs and cots.
In 2015, President Obama cut the LESO program after the Ferguson, MO protests. He recalled many military vehicles, grenade launchers, and other equipment. In the state of Michigan, 13 armored vehicles were taken up to Camp Grayling and blown up to comply with the order. In 2017, President Trump then reversed course on LESO, but most of the military equipment had been destroyed, and most recalled items have not been sent back to police forces. The LESO program is not the only way that police forces obtain military gear, its simply the way that they get the gear for free from the federal government. The LESO program coordinator for the state of Michigan, Larry George states that they are not helping the militarization police departments, but simply assisting them in covering their budget shortfalls. In the grand scheme of things, the LESO program does just that, it covers gear that departments might not be able to afford otherwise. Whether or not police departments actually need the equipment or should have it at all is one that is up for a fierce debate. George noted that there has been an uptick in military gear requests from various police departments statewide since the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any additional questions relating to this situation or anything else related to police brutality, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.