- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rep. Duncan Hunter asked the Defense Department Wednesday to conduct its own review of the program that sends surplus military equipment to police departments, saying the Pentagon should see if there are categories of weapons that should no longer be transferred.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said they will scrutinize what’s known as the Section 1033 transfer program in the wake of stark images from Ferguson, Missouri, showing police armed for combat taking on protesters. Mr. Hunter, California Republican, said the Defense Department needs to do its own review.

“There should be limitations on the type of equipment available,” said the congressman in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Based on my own experience, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps officer, it is difficult to comprehend a suitable community application for resources such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, tracked tactical vehicles and light armored vehicles.”

“Further, when certain surplus equipment is transferred, the Pentagon does not retain the ability to dictate or control how resources are used — making a review of the program all the more necessary to ensure the right decisions are being made.”

Mr. Hunter said there are practical uses for some equipment, but the Pentagon should figure out what falls into which category.

The Defense Department said it has sent $5.1 billion in equipment to state and local police since the 1033 program began in the 1990s, including $449 million last year alone.

Only 5 percent of the equipment transferred are weapons, and less than 1 percent are tactical vehicles, the department said.

The transfer is a loan, and police pay shipping costs. Police are responsible for upkeep and training of personnel on use of the equipment.