In recent years it's become increasingly difficult for ordinary Americans to ignore the fact that their local police departments are becoming militarized. Just a couple generations ago, the police were armed with pretty much the same weapons that civilians could own. They drove vehicles that, without decals and sirens, wouldn't be out of place at an ordinary car dealership. They wore uniforms that were comparable to clothes worn by other civilian government employees. Now they carry assault rifles, drive armored vehicles, and on occasion they wear camouflage. They look and sometimes act, just like soldiers in a warzone.
So what made our police departments so militarized? You can partly blame the Pentagon's 1033 program, which was implemented by the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997. The program allows the Defense Logistics Agency to loan military grade weapons, equipment, and vehicles to local police departments, thus allowing them to transform into paramilitary squads on a shoe string budget.