The Department of Defense on Tuesday insisted that its program that funnels military gear to local police helps those officers do their job, even as that program comes under increasing scrutiny amid ongoing protests against law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo.
“By and large — and I’m speaking like any American citizen, and I’m sure you guys would agree with me — that law enforcement all over the country has a hard job to do,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters, as quoted by Politico. “And 99 percent of them all do it very well. And some of the equipment that they get through this program helps them do that job.”
Kirby added that the agency does not “push” that equipment on local police departments.
Several national lawmakers have called for a review of the federal programs that allow local police departments to request free military equipment from the Department of Defense. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has also introduced legislation that would prevent the transfer of certain military-grade equipment.
As TPM has pointed out, both the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments have received equipment from the U.S. military through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program.
Kirby further noted that the Department of Defense cannot control how local law enforcement uses the military equipment they receive from the agency, according to Politico.