The Defense Department has stopped issuing weapons to thousands of law enforcement agencies until it is satisfied that state officials can account for all the surplus guns, aircraft, Humvees and armored personnel carriers it has given police under a $2.6 billion program, The Associated Press has learned.
The department’s Defense Logistics Agency ordered state-appointed coordinators in 49 states to certify the whereabouts of that equipment that has already been distributed through the long-running arrangement overseen by the agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office. The temporary halt on transferring weapons applies to all states, agency officials said Thursday.
The program provides police departments and other law enforcement agencies with military equipment ranging from guns and helicopters to computers and air conditioners and even toilet paper. The equipment is cheap or free for law enforcement agencies to acquire, but much of it comes with strict rules that prohibit it from being sold and dictate how it must be tracked.
The military decided to conduct a “one-time, clean sweep” of all state inventories instead of reviewing them piecemeal, said Kenneth MacNevin, a spokesman for the federal agency. While some gear, including guns, has been stolen or otherwise gone missing over the years, MacNevin said the reporting requirements themselves aren’t new and that the review wasn’t prompted by anything specific.
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