Evaluation Finds Excess Property Program Is Efficient and Effective, but Perceptions About Militarized Police Persist
May 21, 2018
The Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) provides excess Department of Defense property to law enforcement agencies across the United States. The authors of this report find that LESO manages an efficient program that effectively reuses excess property. But these efforts are unlikely to resolve perceptions that the program contributes to the militarization of police. This report presents three optional paths ahead.
Law Enforcement Agency Equipment Acquisition Policies, Findings, and Options
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The Defense Logistics Agency's (DLA's) Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) provides excess Department of Defense property — everything from desks to rifles to airplanes — to local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies (LEAs) across the United States. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the material transferred to LEAs, LESO has been the subject of congressional, Government Accountability Office, and public scrutiny for almost two decades. Recent events — including the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, protests — increased interest in the program. Opponents of the program argued that LESO was at least partially responsible for what they perceived to be an increased militarization of the police, while proponents believed that this program not only made police and citizens safer but exemplified good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act required an evaluation of the LESO program, which provides thousands of LEAs with millions of dollars of excess property annually. The authors of this report find that LESO manages an efficient program that effectively reuses excess property, benefits the law enforcement community, responds diligently to oversight, and is faithful to congressional intent. However, these efforts are unlikely to resolve perceptions that the program contributes to the militarization of police. Defining what is or is not appropriate militarization of police forces and addressing concerns of how the excess property is employed and its effect on community policing is beyond the authority of DLA. This report presents three optional paths ahead.
Excess Property and LESO Program Processes
Transfers, Losses, Suspensions, Terminations, and Rebuys
Optional Paths Ahead
Executive Order 13688
Executive Order 13809
Standardized Interview Protocol for State Coordinators and State POCs
Standardized Interview Protocol for LEA Officials
This research was sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.
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