Aarian Marshall is a transportation reporter at WIRED and former CityLab contributor. She lives in San Francisco.
The district received the weapons through the same program that gave military equipment to the St. Louis County PD.
Rejoice, L.A. schoolchildren—your school police force no longer has access to grenade launchers. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, announced Wednesday that it would relinquish the three launchers it obtained through a Pentagon program that gives surplus military equipment to police departments, including those that protect school districts.
The Associated Press reports that at least 26 school districts have participated in the program, which has distributed more than $5 billion in surplus military equipment since 1997. The program received widespread attention following last month’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Federal records show that schools in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, Texas and Utah have also received surplus military materials.
L.A. Unified says it intends to keep 60 M16 rifles and one armored vehicle it received through the program. The vehicle, a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP), is often used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect troops from bomb blasts.
"That vehicle is used in very extraordinary circumstances involving a life-saving situation for an armed threat," District police Chief Steve Zipperman told the Associated Press. "Quite frankly I hope we never have to deploy it."