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Hagel Looking into Program Involving Transfer of Equipment to Local Police

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:12:03 +0000

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a deeper look into the longstanding program which allows that Pentagon to transfer excess equipment and weapons to local police given the images coming from Ferguson, Missouri, in recent days.

During a Tuesday briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that Hagel had "asked for some more information so that he can have a more informed opinion" about the program. Kirby also outlined the equipment the Ferguson Police Department has received since 2007 -- including two Humvees, one generator and one cargo trailer. Other police departments in St. Louis County have received six pistols, 12 rifles, 15 weapon sights, an EOD robot, three helicopters, five Humvees and two night-vision devices.

While the Pentagon does hold spot checks to ensure local police departments keep proper inventory of the equipment received from the Pentagon, they "do not legislate, we don't dictate, we don't - we don't mandate any kind of certain use," Kirby said.

Still, Kirby noted, the Secretary of Defense has the power to rescind donations of equipment given to local police departments, and that not all requests are approved. "We don't push equipment on anyone," Kirby said, "There's a lot of due diligence here. Just because they ask for a helicopter doesn't mean they are going to get a helicopter."

Kirby did note that the program also affects counterdrug and counterterrorism activities in a positive way. "Some of this equipment saves lives," he noted, "Let's be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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