LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Unified school district’s police department will return some military weapons received through a federal program that provides surplus equipment to local law enforcement, officials said Wednesday.
Steven Zipperman, Chief of the Los Angeles School Police Department, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the department will give back three grenade launchers while keeping a a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle and dozens of rifles it received through the program.
While much of the military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers – including the 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones – has never been used, Zipperman defended the decision to hang on to the MRAP.
“It is a vehicle that is available for a rescue in the event of a catastrophic incident that may occur within our region,” said Zipperman. “I believe it’s better to have some type of rescue vehicle than none at all.”
Valued at over $730,000, the armored vehicle was given to the LAUSD at no cost from the U.S. government.
LA Unified is among at least 22 school systems across eight states that have received surplus military equipment, The Los Angeles Times reported.
School police and other law enforcement agencies nationwide have received over $5 billion in surplus military equipment since 1997, according to The Times.