Under Barack Obama’s watch, federal agencies have been stockpiling millions of dollars in SWAT- and military-style equipment.
In the midst of a debate over the militarization of local law enforcement, government agencies typically charged with administrative duties have gobbled up more than $71 million in military equipment since 2006, an investigation by OpenTheBooks.com has revealed.
“Spending $71.1 million on body armor outside of traditional law enforcement agencies raises troubling questions. It’s no surprise Gallup found that nearly 50 percent of Americans believe the federal government is a threat to their liberty,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of OpenTheBooks.com and author of the oversight report.
“Living in D.C., one gets a sense of the growing police power of the federal government when you increasingly see official cars emblazoned with ‘fill-in-the-blank-agency Police Service’ for obscure bureaucracies you’ve hardly even heard of,” Chris Edwards, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute told The Washington Times.
For spending tens of millions of dollars on body armor and other protective gear for duplicative police forces, the VA, EPA, FDA and 41 other administrative agencies win this week’s Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction awarded by The Washington Times highlighting examples of wasteful federal spending.
“When agencies like the Bureau of Public Debt and Small Business Administration are spending money on body armor and bulletproof vests, it is an indicator of bloat in those agencies’ budgets and the wasteful incentive to spend every dime before the fiscal year-end,” Mr. Edwards said.
Federal agencies employ roughly 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Other agencies are required by Congress to have their own officers.
“Under the law (38 USC 902) VA police officers are appointed and trained to enforce Federal law within the Department’s jurisdiction. Because they are in every VA Medical Center, and the properties are Federally owned, the officers are the first responders to active threat incidents, civil disturbances or similar incidents,” a spokesman for the VA said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Facilities do receive excellent support from local police agencies, but our guys will be the first to respond.”
In a statement to The Times, a spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency’s Office of Criminal Investigations employs special agents that have the authority to obtain and execute arrest and search warrants, carry firearms and gather evidence to enforce U.S. criminal law on matters relating to the FDA.
“OCI provides its special agents with numerous resources to support investigations OCI Special Agents are dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of the public by investigating criminal allegations falling within the jurisdiction of the FDA,” the spokeswoman said.
Some agencies like the EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management have come under fire in recent years for conducting raid-like operations with heavily armed agents. In 2013 armedEPA officers raided the town of Chicken, Alaska. The agency said the raid was conducted to look for possible violations of the Clean Water Act.
The EPA did not immediately…