The events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri have been a hot button topic in recent weeks. It has brought attention to societal issues, racial profiling and potential problems in law enforcement. One of the highlighted issues brought to light concerns what many are calling a militarization of law enforcement in the US.
Though this recent focus is new, the acquisition of military-grade equipment by law enforcement agencies has been going on for some time. It came about as a program created in 1990 by Congress to help combat what they felt was a growing drug problem in the country.
This program has supplied nearly four and a half billion dollars in military-grade equipment to police forces across the country, from mine resistant vehicles and armored personnel carriers to assault rifle and grenade launchers.
While public outcry is currently outspoken against this militarization, it is unlikely anything will be done to change the program. The prevailing attitudes amongst members of Congress and law enforcement is that police forces often do not receive adequate financial support locally and this program helps ensure preparedness for extraordinary circumstances.