If you are like me, you were probably glued to the television Wednesday night at the situation going on in Ferguson, Mo. On that night, protests over the police shooting that caused the death of 19-year-old Michael Brown turned violent, and police used tear gas and other methods to disperse protesters.
From afar, one of the most striking parts of the night was what the police in Ferguson looked like. Many were dressed in camouflaged body armor and riding on top of large armored vehicles.
In the aftermath of that night, there has been a renewed focus on where all that equipment came from.
Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Defense has been able to transfer excess military equipment to local and state police agencies. The law the allowed that to happen, The National Defense Authorization Act, was envisioned as a way to equip police for the War on Drugs.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the program has resulted in $4.2 billion of equipment being moved from the military to the local law enforcement.
Galveston County has received some of that equipment. ABC 13 reporter Ted Oberg has the list of what our local agencies have received under the 1033 program since 2012.
Included in Galveston County’s haul:
• Two mine resistant vehicles that cost $658,000 a piece
• A kitchen field trailer worth $104,246
• Six night vision image intensifiers
• 15 tactical load carrying vests
The records don’t show which towns specifically received the equipment, but we do know some of the information from previous reporting.
Last year, GCDN’s Christopher Smith Gonzalez, reported that League City and Galveston each received mine resistant vehicles for free.
The cities say they used the vehicles to respond to tactical situations, particularly ones where the officers might be under fire from assault weapons.
Interestingly, it seems that having two MRAPs puts Galveston in rarified air. The New York Times last week produced a graphic to show what kind of equipment counties from around the country have received from the 1033 program since 2006.
Only four other Texas counties — Harris, Tarrant, Dallas and Wichita — have as many mine resistant vehicles as Galveston, according to the Times.