Law enforcement officers discuss getting military equipment from government

Continued criticism of 'heavily-armed' police officers in Ferguson, Missouri has convinced the President Barack Obama to look into how military gear is issued to local law enforcement. Local agencies have access to the gear using grants.

The frequency of use by law enforcement agencies around varies. Some use the program every chance they get and others don't bother getting anything.

Critics question why police in Ferguson need heavy-duty military gear. Lawmakers have urged the president to look into the government program designed put the gear in the hands of officers all over.

"This is a resource," said Irondale Police Sergeant Jason Hill.

It's commonly known as the 1033 program. Irondale Police is one of the departments familiar with how it works.

"We have to rely on our budget for that fiscal year. Sometimes, especially the last few years, a lot of agencies and municipalities have experienced lean times," added Sgt. Hill.

The Irondale Police Department purchased several humvees, laptops and medical kits. Departments don't always use the military gear the same way the military does.

"These humvees have played a vital role in providing a service to the community," added Sgt. Hill.

Irondale officers often use the humvees in snowstorms, rescue situations and to carry people from one place to another.

"We have very few things that we have ever received out of the that program," said Shelby County Sheriff's Office Captain Ken Burchfield.

Captain Burchfield told ABC 33/40 his agency used the program to buy only a handful of rifles and night vision goggles.

"To be honest with you, 9 out of 10 times we used those, it was to search for someone who was lost after dark," added Capt. Burchfield.

Capt. Burchfield doesn't see passing up on using the program as wasting good resources.

"Most of the time, the sheriff or county commission, has the ability to purchase the things we need to do our job. For the most part, the things that were offered are not things we thought we needed," added Captain Burchfield.

The president has not announced when the review will happen. Members of Congress plan to discuss the issue in September.