Civil Liberties

Senators a Tad Concerned About Police Militarization

They'd like to know what is going where, and why


WASHINGTON — The federal government has sent more than $1 billion a year to police departments across the country — in the form of equipment and grants — with little assessment of whether that aid is needed and with minimal follow-up on how the weapons or money is used, according to testimony at a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The hearing, convened to probe "police militarization" in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., focused on three federal programs designed to help local police departments respond to drug crime and terrorist attacks. Lawmakers and witnesses suggested that programs have run amok, haphazardly doling out military equipment that has transformed some local police into paramilitary forces.