NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some New Jersey lawmakers are calling for a review of a military program that has delivered millions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.
A spokeswoman for the federal Defense Logistics Agency said local police departments have received equipment valued at $5.1 billion. The items range from office equipment and blankets to high-powered weapons.
Data show shipments to New Jersey include hundreds of automatic rifles, as well as utility trucks, armored vehicles, night-vision binoculars and even a grenade launcher.
“This is equipment that appears suitable for war zones, not for our neighborhood streets,” Democratic state Sen. Nia Gill, D-Montclair, wrote in a letter to New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman asking him to review the state’s participation in the program after observing the forceful police response to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
Gill told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola she wants Hoffman to clarify how surplus military equipment has been sent to local police departments.
“What is the oversight in the delivery and receipt of the equipment in New Jersey?” Gill asked. “Do we track it?
“We need to know what municipalities and towns have this military equipment and how it is being deployed? Is it strict guidelines? Or can it be used for anything within the discretion of the law enforcement agency?”
President Barack Obama has also called for a re-examination of the programs.
Gov. Chris Christie was asked at a town hall meeting last week about the militarization of police in New Jersey. He cautioned against drawing conclusions or generalizations and said politicians who weigh in now on the subject are just trying to get their names in newspapers.
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