Last month, Fusion found that 184 police agencies across the U.S. had been suspended from the Pentagon's notorious military-issue weaponry program for losing the guns they were given. The news site visited nine California departments in search of their lost armaments, with funnysad results.
The DOD's "1033" program—which gained new scrutiny after the Ferguson riots raised questions about cops' military-style up-armoring—has shoveled $4.3 billion in Humvees, helos, guns, and grenade launchers to 8,000 or so police departments since its inception in 1990. But for some reason, many of the free .45s and M-14s keep disappearing from police armories, and cops have no good answers:
In April 2013, the Huntington Beach Police Department was suspended from the Pentagon's 1033 equipment-sharing program after they lost track of an M16 semi-automatic rifle. And they weren't the only ones.
An ongoing Fusion investigation has revealed that nine California police agencies were suspended from the Pentagon's controversial program because they could not account for all their military-issued weapons. At least 13 assault rifles have gone missing from various police departments in the "golden state" — and so far none of those weapons have been recovered.
This is not an LAPD, major-metro SWAT team problem, mind you. This is more like a "more guns than cops" problem:
Siskiyou County, one of the most northernmost counties in California, has a population of just under 44,000 — averaging seven people per square mile — according to the latest Census data.
Despite its rural location and sparse population, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department felt the need to beef up its arsenal. It received 32 assault rifles, one grenade launcher and a mine-resistant vehicle through the Pentagon program. But Siskiyou County was suspended from the program on Jan. 31, 2013 after it failed to locate one of its M14 assault rifles on loan.
Sutter County, just north of the California's state capitol has a population of 95,000 residents and describes itself on its county website as place with a low crime rate, "seismic stability," and "world class outdoor hunting and fishing activities."
It's also a place with tendency to lose assault rifles. The Sutter County Sheriff Department was suspended from the Pentagon's 1033 program after losing two M15s and an M14.
"Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, it's inconclusive," he said. "But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it."
Meet your friendly constabulary, America: heavily armed, and pretty confident.