For decades, the U.S. military has given its leftover equipment to federal, state, and local police agencies. Now departments are shipping some of it to war-torn Ukraine to assist in its battle to defend the homeland against invading Russian forces, according to a report by Vice News.
According to Vice, state police agencies in Colorado and Vermont on Wednesday declared gifts of defensive equipment to Ukrainians.
“It came out of empathy,” Patricia Billinger, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, told local news outlets. “Of imagining particularly the men of serving age in Ukraine who are just regular citizens and who are mandated to stay and fight.”
Vermont Governor Phil Scott indicated that "worn and expired" body armor vests will be supplied, while the Vermont State Police urged citizen donations of high-grade Level III or higher body armor, which protects against less powerful rifle-caliber shots.
According to Vice, the Colorado Department of Public Safety is contributing 80 sets of body armor and 750 ballistic helmets, while the Falls Township Police Department in Pennsylvania is sending 52 vests, including 15 higher-grade ones that might be used in military situations. Police from Falls Township are also donating battle dress uniforms, which are suited for use in conflict, as well as other items such as boots and medical supplies.
A representative for Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano informed Vice that the city of Yonkers, New York, is also donating dozens of Level II ballistic vests and riot-control helmets, which were no longer being used by police.
“We took 45 vests from the back of Township Falls police evidence storage," department chief Nelson E. Whitney II told Vice. “I looked through my basement, and I found a couple I had from over the years, and other officers did the same.”
According to the report, much of this equipment is used, outdated, or no longer covered by warranty. That doesn't necessarily mean it's useless—body armor degrades over time, but the length of time it lasts depends on how much it's been used and how it's been stored.
The equipment that police get from the military is normally outdated or outmoded for military use, and it's transferred through the Defense Logistics Agency's 1033 program.
The 1033 program was restricted during Barack Obama's presidency. Donald Trump then lifted restrictions on what equipment police officers may get in 2017. The Joe Biden administration has not set any new limitations on such transfers.