Police departments across New Jersey have stocked up on more than $40 million worth of surplus military equipment through a federal program called 1033.
They get the equipment for free; they just have to pay for shipping and maintenance.
Research by NJTV shows that 106 municipal police departments and nearly a dozen county and state agencies have acquired the equipment. They have amassed 2,400 separate pieces, including 196 Humvees, more than 600 night sights and 100 pairs of night-vision goggles, according to data obtained by NJ Advance Media.
But the program has its skeptics. Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) introduced legislation seeking to make it more transparent, and is asking the attorney general to review it. Communities must have an opportunity “to voice their position and their opinion on how one, their money will be spent and probably more importantly if they want to have a police department that becomes more militarized,” she said.
One of the latest police departments to use the program is Garfield. It just took possession of an MRAP, a mine-resistant armor protected vehicle, the kind used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Police Lt. Michael Marsh said, “This is not a military vehicle any more. It’s a police department fleet vehicle and you can see by the name it’s an emergency rescue vehicle and that’s just how we’re treating it,” Marsh said.
, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.