Missouri senator travels the state to meet with police

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JEFFERSON CITY - Republican Sen. Roy Blunt traveled across the state Monday to talk with local police departments. 

He met with officials privately to talk about tactics and equipment used. 

"Law enforcement issues are important. I wanted to talk generally about that, but particularly the two programs; the homeland security program and the military surplus program, the 1033 program," Blunt said. "I wanted to talk about how that program is used and how that program has worked."

Under the 1033 program, the Department of Defense gives local and state police the opportunity to get equipment not used by the Pentagon. Some of the items include airplanes or helicopters, the bear-cat armored vehicle seen in Ferguson and other vehicles, weapons and miscellaneous gear. 

Roughly 39 percent of military equipment is not used, which is why it is made available to state and local law enforcement. 

Missouri pays for that equipment through the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP). It is meant to prevent and combat terrorism in Missouri. 

Blunt emphasized the defensive aspect of these programs as seen in action during the Ferguson protests.

"The defensive vehicles like the three vehicles that were used in Ferguson are available generally around the state and used for that kind of purpose," Blunt said.

The meeting was closed to the press, Blunt said, because he wanted a more open discussion about when officers use equipment and why. He said he felt like, if it was an open meeting, he would not have gotten the same answers.

Jefferson City was Blunt's third stop on a four city tour Monday.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., met with police Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, at Jefferson City Memorial Airport in Jefferson City, Missouri. Jefferson City was his third out of four stops Monday addressing law enforcement issues.

The plane of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., prepares to leave Jefferson City Memorial Airport in Jefferson City, Missouri on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. His next destination was St. Louis.