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1033 Program

Slide from the Defense Logistics Agency's brochure, describing the 1033 Program's transfer of military equipment to American police forces.

The 1033 Program was created by the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1997 as part of the US Government's Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services (DLA) to transfer excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies.[1] As of 2014, 8,000 local law enforcement agencies participate in the reutilization program that has transferred $5.1 billion in military hardware from the Department of Defense to local American law enforcement agencies since 1997. According to DLA's "Law Enforcement Support Office" (LESO) material worth $449 million was transferred in 2013 alone.[1]

The program has been criticized over the years by local media, by the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense in 2003 and the GAO which found waste, abuse and fraud. It was not until media coverage of militarized police during August 2014 Ferguson unrest that the program drew nationwide public attention. President Obama ordered a multi-agency review, deciding to keep the program.


  • Description 1
    • Oversight 1.1
  • History 2
  • Political responses 3
  • Suspensions 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The [2] The 1033 program is designed to specifically work with law enforcement agencies, like local police forces, school district police and others to acquire aircraft, tactical armored vehicles, weapons, including grenade launchers, watercraft, and more as illustrated in a powerpoint presentation.[3][4][5] The program allows the transfer of equipment such as fax machines and filing cabinets, which many police departments may be unable to afford.[4] AS of September 2014 more than twenty school district police agencies received military-grade equipment through the program.[6] The San Diego school district planned to return a military surplus vehicle after negative public reaction.[7]

Availability of this surplus equipment has been facilitated by the reduced American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.[8] About a third of the equipment delivered to police departments is new, and Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the ACLU, writes that the federal government is deliberately militarizing local law enforcement agencies.[9]

A memorandum of agreement between the DLA and the states participating in 1033 requires, that local police forces use the military equipment within one year, or return it.[8] The rules allow police to dispose of or sell some goods after at least one year of usage.[10]


Law enforcement agencies must declare the intended use for each item, maintain an audit trail for each item and conduct inventory checks for DLA. Firearms, certain vehicles and other equipment must be returned to the Defense Department after use.[10] "For security reasons [1033 program record] information is not subject to public review", per DLA.[10]

A state coordinating agency in each U.S. state,except for Hawaii headed by a state coordinator that is appointed by the state governor must approve an application and is supposed to function as oversight after dispersion of equipment.[11] The state coordinating agency is housed within a state agency that varies from state to state, for example in the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the Alaska Department of Public Safety and so on.[12] The fact that in Arizona a [13]

In 2003, a Defense Department Inspector General audit found incorrect or inadequate documentation in about three-quarters of the transactions analyzed, declaring 1033 Program records unreliable.[10]

The Government Accountability Office found in 2005 that the Pentagon "does not have management controls in place" to avert waste, abuse and fraud in the program. Investigators identified "hundreds of millions of dollars in reported lost, damaged, or stolen excess property ... which contributed to reutilization program waste and inefficiency."[10]


In 1990, section 1208 of the "National Defense Authorization Act of 1990" authorized transfer of military hardware from the Department of Defense broadly to "federal and state agencies" but specifically "for use in counter-drug activities".[1][14] as this legislation was passed in the context of the War on Drugs.[14][8] Until 1997, it was called the 1208 program and run by the Department of Defense from the Pentagon and its regional offices.[4]

In 1995, the Law Enforcement Support Office was created within the DLA to work exclusively with law enforcement.[4]

In 1997, the 1208 program was expanded to the 1033 program with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 allowing "all law enforcement agencies to acquire property for bona fide law enforcement purposes that assist in their arrest and apprehension mission", and that "Preference is given to counter-drug and counter-terrorism requests[1]

Political responses

In August 2014, the militarized response to civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri led to criticism of the 1033 program:

  • U.S. senator Rand Paul, member of the Republican Party, stated that the American government "has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts and helped municipal governments build what are essentially small armies."[8][15]
  • Congressman Hank Johnson, a member of the Democratic Party, drafted legislation proposing to curb, but not end the 1033 program, urged legislative armed services committee to suspend the transfer of some equipment..[16]
  • President Obama ordered a review of the program.[17]

In September 2014, Federal Emergency Management Agency, stated that officials are conducting a review to determine if police forces deployed in Ferguson improperly used equipment purchased with the grants for riot suppression, which is not allowed. It was inconclusive from the questioning, how many times equipment was purchased with funds used to combat terrorism.[18]

  • Rear Admiral John Kirby, press secretary for the Pentagon, argued that the program has aided law enforcement across the United States in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic operation, and that it has helped law enforcement to protect civilians. He stated that the Pentagon was diligent in deciding what equipment was sent to specific police departments.[19]
  • Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, argued that the equipment was primarily used to protect civilians.[20]
  • Congressman Buck McKeon scheduled a United States House Committee on Armed Services subcommittee "Oversight and Investigations" hearing to examine the program, which was postponed.[21]
  • The House Judiciary Committee declined to review the program, stating that any review would follow an investigation by the Obama administration.[21]
  • In October 2014,

    • Congressman Hank Johnson urged the heads of the Armed Services Committees to adopt a moratorium on the transfer of certain items and to eliminate a section of the House version of the 2015 Defense bill, passed earlier in 2014, that would expand equipment transfers to border security, the nation's largest law enforcement agency.[21]

    In November 2014,

    • Rand Paul's second Ferguson op-ed in Time magazine did not mention the subject of his first op-ed, demilitarization of the police.[22]
    • Steve Rabinovich, a Police officer writing for police website, defended the 1033 program as necessary for protecting police officers from violent or deadly assaults by individuals or anti-government groups viewing police as scapegoats.[23]
    • The House Committee on Armed Services reviewed the program, interviewing four witnesses, including the president of the Police Foundation, the director of the National Tactical Officers Association, and two employes of the Department of Defense [24][25]and their heads, Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) are working on a compromise of the 2015 defense authorization bill instead of a moratorium.[21]

    By late November 2014, following the deployment of the National Guard and further unrest after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, the White House had not released results of its review, promised in September.[26] Following police lobbying efforts, and the 2014 congressional elections having rendered Congress lame duck, the support for ending or changing the 1033 program has dwindled. Senator McCaskill suggested that "Congress would seek to better train police to use transferred equipment".[26]


    DLA public-affairs chief Kenneth MacNevin stated in 2012, that "more than 30 Arizona police agencies have been suspended or terminated for failing to meet program standards and nine remain under suspension".[10] One of them was the Maricopa County, Arizona law enforcement after failing to account for 20 of the 200 military weapons it had received.[27] The suspension did not affect police acquisition of high powered weaponry due to anti-racketeering or confiscated drug funds, according to Maricopa's Sheriff.[27]

    In North Carolina, law officials are working to reinstate the 1033 program through more rigorous inventory management, after the state was suspended for failing to account for some transferred equipment.[24] North Carolina officials state that 3,303 out of the 4,227 pieces of equipment obtained through the program are tactical items including automatic weapons and military vehicles and the remainder is not used in combat, and includes cots, containers and generators.[24]

    Fusion reported in August 2014 that a total of 184 state and local police departments had been suspended from the program for missing weapons and failure to comply with guidelines.[28] Missing items included M14 and M16 assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, and two Humvee vehicles.[28]

    See also


    1. ^ a b c d "The Law Enforcement Support Office". Defense Logistics Agency. United States Government. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
    2. ^ DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs (n.d.). "About Us". DLA Disposition Services. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    3. ^ DLA Disposition Services (22 July 2014). "1033 Program Overview" (powerpoint presentation). LESO. p. 69. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    4. ^ a b c d "The 1033 Program". US Government Defense Logistics Agency. n.d. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
    5. ^ Ingraham, Christopher (14 August 2014). "The Pentagon gave nearly half a billion dollars of military gear to local law enforcement last year". Wonkblog (The Washington Post). Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
    6. ^ "Report: School Districts Are Receiving Free Military Gear From The Pentagon". Talking Points Memo. September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
    7. ^ Associated Press (September 2014). "San Diego School Police To Return 18-Ton Military Vehicle". KPBS (KPBS Public Broadcasting). Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
    8. ^ a b c d Walker, Richard (15 August 2014). "US police go military with 1033 program". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
    9. ^ Kara Dansky (August 19, 2014). "Emotions run high in Ferguson, Missouri". CNN Opinion. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 
    10. ^ a b c d e f g h Dennis Wagner (19 May 2012). "Pinal Sheriff's Office stockpiles, prepares to sell military equipment". The Republic (Gannett, Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    11. ^ Daniela Guzman (29 August 2014). "‘From warfighter to crimefighter’ – the US 1033 program, and the risk of corruption and misuse of public funds". Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
    12. ^ Law Enforcement Support Office (n.d.). "State Coordinator Contact List". DLA. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
    13. ^ Dennis Wagner (20 August 2014). "Police in combat gear stir criticism". The Arizona Republic (Gannett Company). Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
    14. ^ a b Wofford, Taylor (13 August 2014). "How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program". Newsweek. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
    15. ^ Rand Paul (14 August 2014). "Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police". Time Magazine (Time Warner). Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    16. ^ Mario Trujillo and Jesse Byrnes (14 August 2014). "Lawmaker drafting bill to demilitarize local police 108". The Hill (Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.). Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    17. ^ Steve Holland; Andrea Shalal (24 August 2014). "Obama orders review of police use of military hardware". Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
    18. ^ Nelson, Steven. "Pentagon Rethinks Giving MRAPs, Bayonets to Police". US News. US News. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
    19. ^ Lamothe, Dan. "Pentagon defends program supplying military gear to Ferguson police". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
    20. ^ Bruce, Becky. "'"Fraternal Order of Police defends 'militarization. KSL Radio. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
    21. ^ a b c d Lillis, Mike (1 November 2014). "Push to demilitarize cops in lame duck". The Hill. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
    22. ^ David Weigel (27 November 2014). "How Police Unions Stopped Congress From 'Militarization' Reform". Bloomberg News (Bloomberg L.P.). Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
    23. ^ Rabinovich, Steve (4 November 2014). "Answering the critics of MRAPs and the 1033 Program". Praetorian Group, Inc. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
    24. ^ a b c Ramey, Elisse (24 November 2014). "1033 Program in Eastern North Carolina". WITN. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
    25. ^ House armed services committee (13 November 2014). "The Department of Defense Excess Property Program in Support of U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies: An Overview of DOD Authorities, Roles, Responsibilities, and Implementation of Section 1033 of the 1997 National Defense Authorization Act". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
    26. ^ a b McMorris-Santoro, Evan (24 November 2014). "Washington Bails On Demilitarization After Ferguson". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
    27. ^ a b Cassidy, Megan (27 August 2014). "MCSO missing nine weapons from Pentagon's 1033 program". AZ Central. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
    28. ^ a b Daniel Rivero, Jorge Rivas (August 26, 2014). "Fusion Investigates: How did America's police departments lose loads of military-issued weapons?". Fusion. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 

    External links

    • Law Enforcement Support Office Home Page
    • ACLU staff (June 23, 2014). "War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
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