After police in Ferguson, Mo., used armored vehicles during protests two years ago, researchers at the University of Idaho began looking into the distribution of military equipment to police departments.
Their recently released study looks at what’s called the 1033 program between 2006-2013. The program transfers excess military equipment to local police agencies for free, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, better known as MRAPs.
University of Idaho graduate student Lanny McAden is one of the researchers on the study. He was curious to know what police departments received this kind of gear, and wanted to know if there were any patterns. McAden says he was surprised by how inconsistent his findings were.
“The Southwest [had a lot of acquisitions], some space in the middle of the U.S. where no acquisitions were taking place," says McAden. "[There were] some rural areas in Montana that were heavily using the program. It was just very random.”
In Idaho, rural counties including Franklin, Boundary, Jefferson and Clearwater counties received the most military equipment. McAden says the next phase of his research will look at the possible reasons departments acquired gear, including issues like racial tensions and the drug trade.
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