Yesterday, I chatted with Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb about Ferguson-style military equipment and whether SPD use military vehicles and weapons to police our city. As Newsweek has reported in the wake of the scary police crackdown in Ferguson, a lot of police departments don't just look like they're using military equipment, they actually are using surplus American military equipment, provided virtually for free by the federal government under what's known as Section 1033.
"As far as this notion that we might use militarized equipment," Whitcomb answered yesterday afternoon, "I'm happy to say that we don't." Seattle's police use equipment intended for policing, not the military, he said. About an hour later, SPD posted on their Police Blotter a bulleted list and a spreadsheet of all the surplus military equipment they've received through the 1033 program, from May 2010–March 2014. Here's the list:
• Flotation vests
• Ballistic plates for officers’ bulletproof vests
• Ventilated tents
• A radiation detector
• Rifle sights, used by the approximately 130 officers who have passed the department’s rifle-certification program.
• Two utility trucks, which the department returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord after seven months.
• A metal utility cabinet
• And pistol holsters
You can find a spreadsheet list of the items, along with some pictures of example items, in their post.