The 1033 Program: Effect on Law Enforcement and the Debate Surrounding It

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Excess Property 1033 program has assisted law enforcement agencies for nearly 25 years. It is best known for its role in providing law enforcement agencies with critical but previously unavailable equipment for little to no cost. For example, prior to the deployment and utilization of today’s purpose-built police armored personnel carriers such as the Lenco BearCat and Armored Solutions TK-4, many police departments relied on privately donated armored bank cars to provide ballistic protection for their officers. By the early 1990s, departments began to replace these cash-carrying conveyances with surplus armored personnel carriers originally developed for the U.S. Air Force to escort convoys and patrol air bases scattered throughout the world. The vehicle, known as the Peacekeeper, began its service with the Air Force in 1980 and by the mid-1990s, nearly all Peacekeepers had been replaced in U.S. service. Many of the nearly 800 Peacekeepers produced took up new duties as police SWAT vehicles in jurisdictions throughout the United States as the most visible symbol of the DOD Excess Property 1033 program.

The 1033 program of late has been catapulted into national debate as the result of recent events across the United States that have been associated with the use of military-supplied equipment. In the current atmosphere, it’s extremely important that law enforcement leaders be informed on the 1033 program—what it is; what equipment is available to law enforcement agencies; how equipment can and has been used by law enforcement agencies; and how their agencies may be able to take advantage of this valuable federal recycling program.