Students protest FSUPDs military weapon aquisition

Students for a Democratic Society at Florida State University held a meeting Wednesday night for the launch of a campaign to stop the demilitarization at FSU.

The student organization demands that the police department to return the military equipment that has been purchased by the FSU Police Department.

Military rifles and tanks typically used for wars can now be found on university campuses across the nation, particularly on Jefferson St. where the Florida State University Police Department is located.

In 2013, for a cheaper value than its original cost, FSUPD got a Humvee and ten semi-automatic rifles, a military surplus program.

The U.S. Department of Defense 1033 program, facilitated by the Law Enforcement Support Office, allows police forces to buy the military’s excess material.  The type of property available consists of riot gear, vehicles, watercraft, weapons and night vision.

The program was created in 1990 to help officials get equipment to assist primarily in counter-drug and counter-terrorism efforts.

Campus police departments across the state, including the University of Central Florida, University of Florida and Florida International University use this program to obtain military equipment.

Zachary Schultz, a sociology sophomore at FSU from Sarasota, Fla., and Chairman of SDS, said that police militarization has been a problem for a long time.

“The 1033 program was actually started to fight the war on drugs,” Schultz said. “Right now, we see campus police forces getting more and more assault rifles, mine-resistant vehicles and army Humvee.”

The organization, among others across the country, has demanded for the program to end, believing that local law enforcement should not have access to war inventory.  

FSUPD Major Jim Russell said the equipment is not used for crowd control at all, but is standard for severe weather and in case of active shooting.

“In August of 2014, we got ten rifles,” Russell said. “Those are identical to the rifles we’d buy with our budget anyway.”

The program was created in 1990 to help officials get equipment to assist primarily in counter-drug and counter-terrorism efforts.

More than 8,000 law enforcement agencies are enrolled in the program.

Across the tracks, FAMU Police Chief Terrence Calloway said that the FAMUPD is focusing to make services better for faculty, students and staff.

“To each his own, but at this point, FAMU doesn’t need Humvee and military equipment,” Calloway said.

SDS’s goal is to get the FSUPD to return the equipment and to end participation with the defense program.

SDS meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Oglesby Union Room 320 at FSU.