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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Police Chief: Ensuring Police-Military Line Remains Clear

By James Lomuscio

In the wake of national concerns about the militarization of police departments, an issue brought to the forefront by the police response to rioting in Ferguson, Mo., Westport Police Chief Dale Call weighed in on his department’s receipt of military surplus over the years.

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One of two Humvees Westport Police received as military surplus. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“Define militarized,” Call said in an interview. “Police departments have been organized in the paramilitary structure since the beginning of time, but at the end of the day, we’re don’t function as the military, nor should we ever.”

With Westport being an affluent community and not being strapped for equipment, “we don’t ask for what we don’t need,” from the Department of Defense (DOD) through its 1033 program, Call said. The program gives without charge military resources no longer used, from guns to Humvees.

The Washington Post reported last week that in 2013 the 1033 program gave about $500 million worth of equipment to local departments, mostly for natural disaster responses, items such as tents, generators, ATVs and pickup trucks. However, law enforcement agencies can also tap the program for more formidable items: aircraft, grenade launchers and tactical vehicles.

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