The Federal 1033 program allows police departments to acquire excess military equipment from the Department of Defense.
A proposed ordinance meant to limit what the Madison Police department’s can acquire through the 10-33 program just took another step forward after passing through Madison’s common council executive committee. But not everyone is happy with the proposal — including those who originally authored it.
During the Finance Committee meeting last month, Alder Max Prestigiacomo made his position very clear on his 1033 proposal.
“I think this ordinance is about rethinking our police and equally important, severing the link completely between the city of Madison police department and the military industrial complex,” says Prestigiacomo.
The original proposal, sponsored by Alders Prestigiacomo and Rebecca Kemble, would bar the Madison Police department from acquiring any military surplus from the 1033 program. However, Alders Keith Furman and Barbara Harrington-McKinney developed an alternate version of the proposal.
That alternate proposal was passed by the executive committee of the Madison Common Council yesterday. That version allows the police department to continue obtaining equipment from the 1033 program, excluding a list of six prohibited items, including teargas, which was used frequently this summer against Black Lives Matter protesters in Madison. The proposal also requires the Common Council’s sign-off to use any item they receive valued over 50,000 dollars.
For Alder Kemble, these changes went too far.
“It completely guts the intention of the original resolution, which was to demilitarize the police, to cut off the use of this program to the MPD,” says Alder Kemble.
According to the Defense Logistics Agency, around 8,200 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies take part in the 10-33 program. Critics point to this equipment as militarizing police forces.
Acting Madison Police Chief Victor Wahl argues that the program helps save money on common, non-lethal supplies, as a successful request only requires the city to pay for shipping.
“We’ve used it for a number of years for a variety of things that we received. Most of it is pretty mundane, some of the most pertinent things that we received recently in the last year or so have been n95 masks,” Wahl says.
In the past, the department used the program to acquire rifles and firearms. The department also used the program to purchase an armored vehicle in 2018.
Alder Michael Verveer attempted to add two amendments to the altered proposal. The first would lower the requirement for approval price from 50,000 to 10,000 dollars, the second would add regular ammunition to the list of excluded items.
Both of these amendments failed.
“It is totally meaningless. I think had those two things been added it would have added some more level of actual y’know oversight and prohibition of things that MPD actually uses, but that was voted down,” Alder Kemble says.
Alder Kemble says that many of the items listed are already prohibited by state law, and have never and likely will never be used by the MPD.
Alder Harrington-McKinney argues that the list isn’t meant to imply these items would be used by police, but that it acts as future-proofing.
“As Alder Tierney said, is that, we wanted to put a framework around what would not be used. It is not saying as he said that these are items that would be used,” Alder Harrington-McKinney said during the executive committee meeting Tuesday.
The proposal also requires the police Department to provide the Common Council with a bi-annual report on all property received from the Defense Logistics Agency, the organization that runs the 10-33 program and is a part of the Department of Defense.
It heads next to the full Common Council on September first. Alder Kemble says she already knows her stance.
“I’m not voting for it, I voted against it both at the finance committee and common council executive committee,” Kemble says.