As the U.S. engages in a national debate over the militarization of the police, federal data shows that government agencies charged with largely administrative roles are spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase SWAT and military-style equipment.
Since FY 2006, 44 traditionally administrative agencies have spent over $71 million on items like body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition, according to federal spending data from watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com.
Some examples of the purchases include:
• Nearly $2 million spent by the Department of Veterans Affairs on riot helmets, defender shields, body armor, a “milo return fire cannon system,” armored mobile shields, Kevlar blankets, tactical gear and equipment for crowd control.
• Over $300,000 spent by the Food and Drug Administration on “ballistic vests and carriers” in fiscal 2014.