ACLU: Arizona Police Have So Much Military Equipment They're "Equipped to Wage a War"

Sheriff Joe Arpaio riding a tank owned by MCSO.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio riding a tank owned by MCSO.

An American Civil Liberties Union report on the militarization of police forces across the country spotlights "massive military-grade weapons caches" across police agencies in Arizona.

"Arizona law enforcement, designed to serve and protect communities, is instead equipped to wage a war," the report titled "War Comes Home" says.

See also:
-ACLU Looking Into "Militarization" of Arizona Police Agencies
-Sheriff Arpaio Wants Drones

Through research, the ACLU was able to identify 37,467 pieces of military equipment transferred to police departments in Arizona through the Department of Defense's 1033 program, in which it provides surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies.

Here's the gear acquired through the program that the ACLU found at Arizona agencies:

  • 32 bomb suits
  • 704 units of night vision equipment, e.g., night-vision goggles
  • 1034 guns, of which 712 are rifles
  • 42 forced entry tools, such as battering rams
  • 830 units of surveillance and reconnaissance equipment
  • 13,409 personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or uniforms
  • 120 utility trucks
  • 64 armored vehicles
  • 4 GPS devices
  • 17 helicopters
  • 21,211 other types of military equipment

From the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, that includes a .50-caliber machine gun, 120 assault rifles, five armored vehicles, and ten helicopters.

The report also notes how the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, under Sheriff Paul Babeu, turned around and passed off some of the equipment to non-law enforcement agencies, against the terms of the program with the feds.

In addition to the military weapons, the report also details how war-like tactics have been used by police departments, specifically mentioning one Arizona-based case:

ACLU: Arizona Police Have So Much Military Equipment They're "Equipped to Wage a War"

"The militarization of policing is one example of how contemporary policing in America is failing to deliver on its primary objective of protecting and serving communities," the ACLU says in its report. "The culture of policing in America needs to evolve beyond the failed War on Drugs, and the police should stop perceiving the people who live in the communities they patrol--including those the police suspect of criminal activity--as enemies."

It's not mentioned in the report, but the ACLU also represented the family of a Scottsdale man who was gunned down by police in the doorway of his home, while he was holding his child in 2012, leading to a settlement of more than $4 million.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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