Via Benn Swann comes this
charming tale of SWAT team overkill. The Columbia, South Carolina
police department – along with 499 other municipalities across this
sweet land of liberty – received a “free” MRAP (Mine-Resistant
Ambush Protected) vehicle featuring bullet-proof skin and a rack
capable of holidng a 50 caliber machine gun. Such vehicles cost
about $658,000 but this one was gifted to the police by the
Department of Defense.
Though the vehicle was “free” to the citizens of Columbia, they
were purchased by taxpayer money. 500 surplus military
vehicles costing $658,000 each adds up to $329 million dollars of
surplus DoD spending (and therefore taxing) on vehicles which are
so unnecessary to the military they are being given away to
American cities. Though this wouldn’t fix the debt, it is yet
another multi-million dollar piece of wasteful spending by the
American federal government.
The most troubling aspect of the situation, though, is the
reason for obtaining such a vehicle. Another town which
recently obtained federal funding for a military armored vehicle –
though this one was through the Department of Homeland Security –
was Concord, New Hampshire. When the ACLU and New Hampshire
Civil Liberties Union submitted a public records request, they
discovered that groups like the Free State Project and Occupy New
Hampshire had been cited
as domestic terror threats, and their presence was listed as a
reason the police department needed an armored vehicle.
The vehicle came as part of the infamous “1033 program,” through
which Defense gets rid of excess stuff it didn’t need in the first
place by putting it into circulation via local police departments
(it’s like a gun giveaway in reverse and with tons more firepower).
Read Reason on that.
And read about that horrifying Free State Project – in which a
bunch of libertarians are moving to New Hampshire to influence
state and local government in a small-government direction –
here. Good luck finding any violent terrorists among the
No journalist has done more to highlight the militarization of
police than former Reason staffer Radley Balko (archive here),
now at the Huffington Post (archive here).
Watch this interview about his recent book
Rise of the Warrior Cop.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/18/police-in-columbia-south-carolina-and-49