Senator McCaskill plans a hearing on the militarization of police departments as soon as Congress returns to Washington from its August break. She is among the critics of the use of military equipment in the Ferguson riots, suggesting the department had equipment it doesn’t need and misused the equipment it had.
McCaskill says her committee needs to look at how much equipment departments have gotten, how often they’ve used it, and how expensive is it to maintain. She recalls when she was state auditor looking into the hazardous materials equipment that had been sent by the federal government to Missouri police departments after the 2001 terrorist attacks and finding more than half of the departments had never taken the equipment out of its boxes.
She says, “Some of these programs is the transfer of equipment that’s no longer needed. So in some of these instances it’s getting utilization out of the equipment at the local level that the federal government no longer has a use for. So that’s not a waste of taxpayer money. It may become a waste of taxpayer money, however, if this equipment is expensive to maintain and really isn’t utilized or shouldn’t be utilized.”
McCaskill says some of the equipment used in Ferguson was used in a way that worsened the situation by antagonizing the crowd. She thinks the Ferguson experience also emphasizes the need for people using the equipment to be properly trained.
Congress returns to Washington after Labor Day.