Editor’s Note: This column, by a former contributor to The Declaration, is being left up because, as a publication focused on transparency, we believe that it would be inappropriate for us to erase old pieces. However, the story is not fully accurate. The database cited below shows only that a state or local (but not federal) law enforcement agency in Philadelphia County purchased the equipment described. While the Philadelphia Police Department is the most likely purchaser, the data do not prove that for certain.
By Joshua Albert
In 2012 the Philadelphia Police Department apparently purchased 107 bayonets, amongst other questionable items, according to this database that has been made available by the Law Enforcement Support Office the Defense Logistics Agency.
Today Alan Estevez, the Pentagon official who oversees the program that has helped send billions of dollars worth of military style equipment to local police departments, including 12,000 bayonets, could not answer one simple question: “why do police departments need bayonets?”
He was asked by Senator Rand Paul, and shockingly could not provide an answer according to this video from the hearing.
The 1033 Program is part of the United States Government’s Defense Logistics Agency. Since 1997 the program has been giving police departments $5.1 billion worth of military grade equipment.
The Senate hearing was called by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in reaction to the highly controversial response by police in Missouri after the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a Feguson police officer. The shooting sparked massive protests and unrest in the community that were eventually subdued by local authorities, who used equipment and tactics that appeared to be that of a war zone.
On May 13, 2013 The Philadelphia Police Department made a $30,480 purchase of 239 assault riffles.
The Philadelphia Police Department also has bayonets. 107 of them. Additionally they have:
-100 popup tents
-56 modular sleep systems, like this.
-$60,000 worth of night vision googles.
And a $112,000 “LASER RANGE FINDER-TARGET DESIGNATOR.”
And much much more.
Bayonets are considered an ancillary weapon, meaning that they are designed to be used as a last resort, in close combat battle situations. The last battle in Philadelphia was during the American Revolutionary War.