The Paterson Police Department is looking to acquire 10 Humvees through the controversial 1033 Program, which allows for local law enforcement agencies to acquire surplus military equipment.
Council members authorized the police to participate in the program through a resolution approved on November 22nd, 2016 to acquire the vehicles. Some expressed reservation about participating in the program.
“I don’t need 18 wheel armored vehicles with multiple canons rolling through city streets,” remarked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
“It’s not militarization of the police department,” said police director Jerry Speziale. “What we’re looking to get are Humvees.” He said police have difficulty getting around the city when streets are flooded and there’s heavy snow.
Speziale said the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office has acquired the same vehicles. He said the vehicles will be marked with police colors and logo.
Morris asked who is paying for the marking. The director said police asset forfeiture funds will pay for the vehicle marking.
The city’s move to acquire military weapon came under criticism from the Paterson Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m highly alarmed that Paterson is requesting military grade equipment for the police department. We’re against the rapid militarization of the police.” said Zelli Imani, a leader of the Black Lives Matter, earlier in the month when the measure first came before the council for a vote. “The police are not the military. They do not need military style equipment.”
This is not the first time the city will be acquiring military equipment through the federal surplus program. Paterson acquired 19 rifles (7.62 Millimeter) in 1995, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.