Much attention at the time was focused on the 1033 program, through which the US Defense Department transfers unneeded military equipment to local police departments. Then-president Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2015 to ban the government from sending certain kinds of military equipment to police departments. But the effect was largely symbolic—a report from In These Times shows that transfers under the 1033 program have not decreased since the events in Ferguson.
Three years after the events and the start of an intensified discussion about police reform, and militarization specifically, we checked in with one of the country’s top experts on the topic, Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies, to see whether anything has changed. Kraska testified in front of the US Senate shortly after the events in Ferguson, and is the author of the book Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.