UVM police denied weapon request

The Burlington Police Department announced last week they will no longer receive military equipment, but UVM police services is still tied to the government weapon program.

Until this summer, the only items BPD has received through the military weapon program were two pairs of night vision goggles and a military truck, which it no longer operates, Brandon del Pozo, chief of the BPD, said at a July 13 Burlington city council meeting.  

The 1033 program lets local and state request surplus military gear, according to the Defense Logistics Agency’s website, an agency of the United States government.

“Sure, we didn’t have that much equipment to give back, but I still think that setting the right tone with Burlingtonians and Vermonters was important,” del Pozo said in a Sept. 30 Vermont Public Radio article.

BPD has fired their weapons only twice in the last 15 years, del Pozo said at the July 13 city council meeting.

In September 2012, UVM police services unsuccessfully tried to get military gear from the 1033 program, according to the Sept. 7, 2012 request form.

“I think, ultimately, citizens will give us more leeway and more trust, and the benefit of the doubt in certain cases, if we’ve said from the beginning, ‘We’re a police force, not a military force,’” del Pozo said in the VPR article.

UVM currently has no equipment from the 1033 program, according to the Oct. 27, 2014 UVM police weapon inventory.  However, UVM police requested AimPoint red dots under the 1033 surplus program, according to the September 2012 request.

“Mike Tkac from Hartford PD tells me that there is a program for Police Departments to get military ‘surplus’ AimPoint red dots. I would be interested in finding out how we can take advantage of this program if you can help us out with details,” Sgt. Brandon King from UVM Police Services said in an email sent to Randall Gates, law enforcement support office program coordinator for the Vermont National Guard.

King’s request did not yield any results, UVM Police Lt. Larry Magnant said.

“We never got the red dots,” Magnant said. “We don’t have any humvees, we don’t have anything, we don’t have anything from the department of defense. We have some helmets, but they did not come from the department of defense.”

In 2001, when UVM first applied to participate in the 1033 program, Gary Margolis, former chief of UVM police, said potential drug trafficking at the University was the reason for applying

“The University of Vermont could be seen as a conduit for drug trafficking,” Margolis said. “All of our officers deal with narcotic issues due to the population of the community we serve.”

This community is located in the biggest city in Vermont and next to a major interstate, and is an open campus. This creates the possibility for narcotic trafficking, he said.
“I don’t think UVM police should even have real guns, there’s no gun violence here,”  junior Joseph Charles said.  “I don’t believe any cops should have guns.”