Police around the country get military equipment through the 103 - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Police around the country get military equipment through the 1033 program

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Military equipment handed out to police departments around the country. Military equipment handed out to police departments around the country.

When you think about assault rifles and grenade launchers, you probably think about a battle field.

Since 2006, the 1033 program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense is bringing those military items to neighborhoods across the country. 

"It provides and offers a wide array of military surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies across the country. State, county, and local law enforcement agencies" says Lawrence Messina, Communications Director for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. 

The idea of the program is to supply local and state police departments with high quality military equipment that they otherwise couldn't afford.

While the point is to protect and not hurt, some citizens feel that having this type of equipment is unnecessary for small town police.

"It's good that they do have it but sometimes its a little bit excessive. I agree with them getting certain vehicles like Humvee's and stuff like that, but I don't know why Charleston Police need 15 MRAPS rolling around" says Kanawha County citizen Jacob Facemyre. 

We talked with local police departments to find out why they need high grade military equipment, and they explained that it isn't as harsh as it seems. The majority of the equipment they receive is modified for police use only.

They have no intentions of using armored vehicles for combat situations, but instead for their ability to operate well on rough terrain. They can't use a cruiser if a criminal runs into the woods to hide, so having something like a Humvee allows them to travel in remote locations.

They also assured us that all police using this equipment have to go through extensive training to make sure they know how to properly use and operate all equipment.

West Virginia has received over 27,000 items from the 1033 program since 2006, and the majority of those haven't been weapons.

Police departments also receive things like refrigerators, beds, computers, desks, and combat clothing through the program.  These items go to training centers and detachments to make sure police have all items needed to run a successful department.

When local law enforcement officials are finished with the military equipment, they have to return it to the U.S. Department of Defense to make sure it is disposed of properly and doesn't make it into the wrong hands. 

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