Blog Post 2: College Campus Police Armament

The same military surplus program that supplied the College of William and Mary with a locker of fully automatic M-16 machine guns supplies local police units around the country, including that of Ferguson, Mississippi.  Other colleges have also applied to the same governmental program in order to receive often higher levels of weaponry than M-16s, free of charge.  For instance, Old Dominion University collected a much higher volume and intensity of militarized weaponry.[1]All levels of local police forces, a category under which college campus police units fall, are allowed to apply to the government for free military equipment, due to the military’s Defense Logistics Agency, founded in 1999.[2]Besides the fully automatic M-16 machine guns, the type of equipment available to college campuses consists of armored vehicles, high-tech militarized weaponry, and the same stun grenades used in Ferguson, Missouri.[3]

The Department of Defense also allocates high levels of militarized weaponry to at least 124 colleges, through a federal program, the 1033 program.  The purpose of this program is to reallocate military surplus to different areas of law-enforcement.  It allowed the campus police at the University of Central Florida, a college with an enrollment of 60,000, to achieve the possession of a modified grenade launcher, which, according to Richard Beary, the university’s chief of police, is sitting in storage in the department armory. The much smaller Hinds Community College with a student population of 11,000, also received a grenade launcher, and Ohio State University acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle.[4]

President Barack Obama has motioned for a change of policy regarding the transference of military surplus to local college forces, but nothing has yet been enacted.[5] Some lawmakers in Washington have called for a review of the 1033 program and Senator Clair McCaskill, a Missourian Democrat

heading the oversight subcommittee for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, led a hearing to discuss possible revisions.  (The New York Times).  However there seems to be little urgency in Washington to enact real change, as nothing has been officially revised or reviewed and there is little effort to alert the press or focus public attention on the debate.

Supporters of the program contend that it allows departments and colleges with limited budgets to acquire necessary gear for little cost. They also claim that college campus police forces will be responsible for training and determining how and when the equipment would be used, for example, in crowd-control tactics as opposed to campus shooting incidents like at Virginia Tech (The New York Times).  However, the majority of crimes occurring on college-campuses regard alcohol, drugs, or sexual assault, incidents that would not require a fully-automatic machine gun or grenade launcher.  Furthermore, Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies, argues that even if college campus police have access to tremendous levels of military weaponry, “they are not going to be able to respond” to true emergency situations on a college campus, due to the fact that violent and fatal incidents and disasters on college campuses are usually over quickly, and the local and state law-enforcement officers arriving at the scene have greater training and firepower capabilities than those of the campus police regardless. (The New York Times)

[1] WTRK News Channel 3. 2014. Military Surplus Weapons Sent to Local College         Campuses.

[2] Defense Logistics Agency; Disposition Services; Law Enforcement Support Office

[3] WTRK News Channel 3. 2014. Military Surplus Weapons Sent to Local College         Campuses.

[4] The New York Times. 2014. “Campus Police Acquire Military Weapons.”

[5] The Daily Targum. 2015. Obama Orders Review of Military Equipment Sales to Police.