U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is open to reviewing how local law enforcement agencies are given military equipment by the federal government. The issue of local police looking too much like the military has gained national attention because of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Durbin says he’s directed his staff to look at the process by which the U.S. Department of Defense hands over unused military gear.
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“Find out how these programs are managed, what kind of equipment is up for procurement by local and state governments, and to really step back and take a look at the big picture as to whether or not all this equipment is necessary, and whether or not we’ve overdone it,” Durbin said. Local police can currently get such equipment in several ways. The 1990 National Defense Authorization Act allows agencies to receive surplus military gear at nearly no cost. Additionally, some agencies may use grants from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase more.