Surplus military equipment for police draws scrutiny

Aug 22, 2014

Several Missouri lawmakers are calling for a review of programs that allow surplus military equipment to go to local police departments.  The scrutiny comes in the wake of a heavily armed police presence during protests in Ferguson.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has scheduled hearings next month on the programs that give local police unused military equipment.

Thursday Missouri Congressmen Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about their concerns.

But Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois - who sits on the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee - says the issue isn't the equipment, but how police use it.

"There's a lot of equipment headed to these police departments which make a difference. Night vision goggles. Imagine fighting a war against drugs and being able to see their enemy in the darkness of night. The police need that. We're going to help them with a lot of different elements where military equipment could be helpful." 

Durbin says more training is necessary so police are - quote - "thoughtful and judicious in their use of force."