The strangest military gear on campus police’s back to school shopping list

Why did the Pentagon give 50 armoires and a cargo plane to a college in Arkansas?

Written by Daniel Welch
Edited by JPat Brown

Through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, police departments are eligible to receive secondhand supplies once used by the U.S. military. Among the participating agencies are those hired by public educational institutions – state colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts.

In fact, 141 individual schools or school systems are listed by the Defense Logistics Agency’s July 2016 Inventory as having former military property in their possession. Some of these items are pretty standard, some are frightening to think about, and some are pretty difficult to make sense of. Below are a few of the latter.

Bomb robots

Detroit Public Schools’ Police Department has received six explosive ordinance disposal robots from the U.S. Government. The logical conclusions of this are 1) that the superintendent envisions a diabolical scenario in which six bombs have been planted in school districts around the city, all set to detonate simultaneously, or 2) that the tiny droids are part of the city of Detroit’s ongoing love affair with crime-fighting robots. Expect DPS PD’s bomb-bot-starring fan-film soon.

Targeting/sights

Some of the more prevalent items in the DLA’s inventory are holographic, night-vision, and thermal imaging sights. These, along with a laser rangefinding device delivered to Yale in May 2014 (a device which, it should be said, is ordinarily used only by either snipers or recreational hunters), suggest hypothetical situations which we don’t usually picture involving the same officers assigned to administer talking-to’s to freshmen caught pre-gaming in their dorm rooms. The thought of whose image a college police department would anticipate needing to pick up thermally is as troubling as it is mystifying.

On a lighter note, apparently the DLA misspelled “Thermal Imaging Equipment” as “Thermal Imagining Equipment,” which is sorta funny.

Armored trucks

‘Armored truck’ can signify a lot of things, but the National Stock Number for the ones in possession of the University of Florida Gainesville, University of Maryland College Park, Weatherford College, and Central Washington U Police Departments indicates that they all look like this:

Moulage set; War wounds

Yale University Police has a moulage set that replicates the following injuries:

Which is just creepy, really.

Tower structures

I couldn’t think of any explanation for what these could be used for.

Radar-scattering camo nets

A general caveat for these acquisitions is that some of the listed schools have a criminal justice education curriculum that would warrant the use of some of the equipment 1033 provides. So a decent chunk of the weaponry and MOLLE gear, as well as the massive cargo plane reassigned to Arkansas’ Black River Technical College, can be explained by this. Black River Tech also received a radar-scattering camo net system, which obviously is likely also being used for training its cadets.

However, Edinburg, TX School district police (K-12) does not have a Law Enforcement Academy.

What could possibly going on in there?

Simulators x20

You would think that Old Dominion University, with its 20-count Laser Firing Simulator Systems, would be one of the aforementioned schools with a police training program, right?

But no. There are no law enforcement classes offered at Old Dominion. It bears mentioning that no other school police department listed by the DLA has these. It also bears mentioning that, outside of a military training context, the ‘Technical Definition’ essentially describes the game of laser tag.

ATVs

I cannot anticipate the tactical purpose of these.

100 Humanitarian Rations

These are probably for some sort of service trip or donation drive, but there’s an irresistible joke about college dining hall food here.

50 Armoires

This is by far the weirdest item any of these schools’ police departments have received. All of these went to Black River Tech, the same school that has the free cargo plane.

Curious about your own alma mater? You can view records of which U.S. police departments have received what equipment via the Marshall Project’s 1033 widget embedded below …


Or download the most up to date list for yourself at the Defense Logistics Agency’s eFOIA library.


Image via Ohio State University’s Department of Public Safety