American School Police Departments Have Received M16s, AR15s, Grenade Launchers and Armored Tanks From The 1033 Program
What Could Possibly Go Wrong and Is This Necessary?
The Defense Department’s 1033 Program donates excess military tactical equipment to law enforcement agencies across America. Even school police departments have taken advantage of the free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine-resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and large numbers of M16 and AR15 assault rifles for years.
Section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 sanctioned the Secretary of Defense to give surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. After a few years, the Defense Department’s 1033 Program replaced Section 1208. Since that time, 184 state and local police departments have been suspended from the program for missing weapons, tactical equipment and military vehicles.
What scenario would require grenade launchers, mine-resistant vehicles and/or assault rifles for a school police department? How often might this dangerous tactical equipment get “lost” or stolen? The effectiveness and need for such equipment is certainly questionable.
One MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Vehicle costs taxpayers $730,000. Is this really necessary? Should taxpayer dollars be invested in increasing law enforcement and militarizing America’s schools? Instead of militarizing schools, these tax dollars could go towards supporting long-term solutions that address the root causes of school violence. Arming school police forces with military grade weapons merely reacts to the violence problem without providing a solution to it. The militarized-police approach creates even more problems – guns on campus, missing weapons, misuse of authority – without solving the main issue: the safety of the students.
The State of California’s Participation in the Defense Department’s 1033 Program
According to the Defense Logistics Agency, since 2006, California has received at least 8,533 guns, 7,094 pieces of night-vision equipment, 2,370 bayonets and knives, 49 armored vehicles, 59 airplanes and helicopters, and 18 grenade launchers. Even more amazing, California state records show that at least six California school districts have received surplus military equipment through the Defense Department’s 1033 Program.
A spreadsheet list of tracked 1033 Equipment received by all California police departments (including school police departments) can be downloaded at: Tracked 1033 Equipment in California. The California police departments have more tactical equipment in their arsenals than what is listed in the spreadsheet. The dates included in the spreadsheet are only of the “tracked” weapons during the time period of July 12, 1994 through June 26, 2014. An undisclosed quantity of untracked pieces of military equipment have been issued.
California school police departments participating in the 1033 Program include:
Baldwin Park School Police Department
• 3 – M16 assault rifles
Kern High School District Police
• 30 – magazine pouches for M4 assault rifle ammunition
Related news story: KHSD Police Department now has 25 AR-15 rifles
Los Angeles School Police Department
• 61 – M16 assault rifles
• 3 – grenade launchers
• 1 – mine resistant vehicle (MRAP)
Related news stories for LASPD:
LAUSD’s Finest: Los Angeles School Police – How an oblivious school board lets a tiny, scandal-ridden force endanger L.A. kids (A few highlights from this article include: More than 1,000 mislaid police firearms, Police Officer Ian Mitchell King wants out of prison and is appealing his 20-year sentence, arguing in part that terrified coed Nicole D. should have known better than to submit to his sexual assault, and the department has a “significant problem” completing Internal Affairs probes of its cops before the statute of limitations runs out.)
Oakland Unified School Police
• 1 – utility truck, which the Defense Logistics Agency classified as tactical equipment
Related news stories for OUSD Police:
San Diego Unified Schools Police
• 1 – mine resistant vehicle (MRAP)
Related news stories for SDUSD Police:
San Diego School District’s New 18-Ton Armored Vehicle Creates Stir (Highlight includes: School police department has just been given a military vehicle worth $733,000 in taxpayer funding. The vehicle, called the MRAP was designed for use in war zones and to protect troops from improvised explosive devices, but now it is used to protect police officers from students.)
Stockton Unified School District Police
This school district also received equipment from the 1033 program, but no vehicles, weapons or other tactical equipment.
Schools and communities are not immune from violence. Providing the school police officers with grenade launchers, assault rifles and armored tanks is not going to help solve any of the problems.
Creating a safe school involves the expertise and support of students, teachers, administrators, parents, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, business and community leaders, and a wide array of youth-serving professionals in the community. Schools are organized for the purpose of learning and are not institutions designed to control crime and violence.
Some of the reasons for excessive violence in schools, include:
- A lack of adequate parental/custodial supervision.
- A home environment where other members of the household are abusive towards each other or the student.
- Failure to identify troubled students dealing with depression, stress, anger, fear, sadness and anxiousness.
- Mobbing, bullying or ostracizing of a student.
- The lack of proper counseling and guidance. Many students are unable to solve problems on their own. Professional counseling can help students work through difficult times and prevent them from acting out.
- Easy availability of weapons.
- A high level of unemployment in the community.
- Economic deprivation.
In order for students to perform well, students need a safe and peaceful environment. A healthy, positive school climate promotes the emotional well-being and growth of every student. It is also important for students to develop quality social skills, superior reasoning and problem solving abilities. The most efficient and effective programs for developing safe schools are those that emphasize positive mental health. A school climate that builds on the strengths and individuality of each student, will improve their resiliency and self-esteem, while counteracting the destructive factors that may contribute to aggression and violence.
School administrators should:
- Establish a continuous system of school crime tracking, reporting, and feedback, and provide this information to concerned parties for feedback.
- Design a school environment that ensures safe traffic patterns within, to and from school.
- Adopt procedures for emergency evacuation and crisis management.
- Establish a school safety council or school planning team with representatives from school staff, students, parents, and community representatives. This council should be responsible for providing advice and making decisions about critically important cases of violence and crime, evaluating the state of school safety and proposing revisions to the school discipline code and school safety plan.
- Ensure that all people involved with the school are working to create a safe environment. This goal involves parental involvement, careful screening and selection of all staff members, in-service training about school crime for all staff, comprehensive violence-prevention approaches, intervention in bullying behavior as well as racial and sexual harassment, addressing of student discipline issues in a non-shaming but firm manner that does not incite violent behavior.
- Provide leadership in developing extracurricular activities and recreation programs that provide positive alternatives to juvenile crime and violence, along with specific programs directed at eliminating gang influence in schools and preventing school drug trafficking.
- Improving school order and safety can be achieved by providing an environment where students can find a meaningful role and by having a variety of pro-social activities available for them to take part in. Students who take part in school activities are less likely to engage in school violence than students who feel alienated and deprived of personally meaningful school involvement.
- Respond to students in a caring and non-shaming manner.
- Provide consistent and firm guidelines and rules regarding student behavior.
- Consider the teaching and modeling of pro-social behavior as important as the teaching of academic subjects.
- Display diligent and impartial behavior when supervising students. Teachers must be consistent in granting rewards for good behavior and sanctions for unacceptable behavior.
- Participate in developing a school safety plan, discipline code, and racial and sexual harassment policy.
- Be able to identify the signs and symptoms of different forms of child abuse and neglect. All forms of abuse must be reported immediately.