Background

Originally posted on ACLUM.org

Using military equipment and tactics brought home from wars abroad, police departments across the country and in Massachusetts increasingly treat neighborhoods like combat zones. Massachusetts has already received more than 1,000 military weapons—including machine guns, grenade launchers and “peacekeeper armored vehicles”—through the 1033 program, which gives Department of Defense items to state and local law enforcement, without public oversight.

The ACLU has grave concerns about police militarization. We documented this dangerous trend in our national report War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, which the Obama White House cited in recommendations on how federal law enforcement agencies can support local agencies’ appropriate acquisition of equipment.

The ACLU of Massachusetts has also taken on this issue locally. We sued to challenge the secrecy surrounding the use of SWAT teams in Massachusetts, reaching a settlement agreement with the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) in 2015. The settlement resulted in a declaration that NEMLEC’s records are subject to the state’s public records law, and the disclosure of more than 900 pages of documents.

Our 2014 report on police militarization in Massachusetts, Our Homes Are Not Battlefields, details how the militarization of law enforcement relates to our work on racial justice, because it disproportionately targets the poor and people of color. In one particularly terrible local incident, an officer killed Eurie Stamps—an elderly, unarmed African-American grandfather of 12 in Framingham—when the city’s SWAT team used battering rams and flash bang grenades to smash into his apartment to search for Stamps’ stepson and another man suspected of dealing drugs.

Incidents like this show that treating our neighborhoods like battlefields is counterproductive and does not make us safer. We must demilitarize law enforcement agencies and ensure their focus is serving and protecting all of us, not finding uses for weapons and tactics of war.

Data

The data available here is from the the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), a combat support agency in the United States Department of Defense. It lists every single “donation” made from the DLA to a state or local law enforcement agency across all 50 U.S. States and Territories, going as far back as 1994.

Learn more by reading our report “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing”:

This data was directly received from the Defense Logistics Agency, a combat support agency in the United States Department of Defense. It is a single XLSX spreadsheet with 54 tabs for 50 U.S. States and 4 U.S. Territories (District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands).

Click the button below to download this dataset from GitHub:

Download Data from GitHub