Reps. John­son, Labrador in­tro­duce bill to de-mil­i­ta­rize po­lice

The Covington News - - LOCAL -

WASH­ING­TON, D.C. – To­day, Rep. Hank John­son (D) (GA-04) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R) (ID01) in­tro­duced the bi­par­ti­san Stop Mil­i­ta­riz­ing Law En­force­ment Act of 2014 (H.R. 5478), which would place re­stric­tions and trans­parency mea­sures on the Depart­ment of De­fense (DOD) Pro­gram that trans­fers sur­plus mil­i­tary equip­ment to state and lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies.

“Mil­i­ta­riz­ing Amer­ica’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fear­ful and more ret­i­cent,” said John­son. “Be­fore an­other small town’s po­lice force gets a $750,000 gift from the De­fense Depart­ment that it can’t main­tain or man­age, it be­hooves us to press pause on Pen­tagon’s 1033 pro­gram and re­visit the mer­its of a mil­i­ta­rized Amer­ica.”

“Our na­tion was founded on the prin­ci­ple of a clear line be­tween the mil­i­tary and civil­ian polic­ing,” said Labrador. “The Pen­tagon’s cur­rent sur­plus prop­erty pro­gram blurs that line by in­tro­duc­ing a mil­i­tary model of over­whelm­ing force in our cities and towns. Our bill would re­store the fo­cus of lo­cal law en­force­ment on pro­tect­ing cit­i­zens and pro­vid­ing due process for the ac­cused.”

The Stop Mil­i­ta­riz­ing Law En­force­ment Act would: Pre­vent trans­fers of equip­ment in­ap­pro­pri­ate for lo­cal polic­ing, such as high-cal­iber weapons, long-range acous­tic de­vices, grenade launch­ers, armed drones, ar­mored ve­hi­cles, and grenades or sim­i­lar ex­plo­sives. End in­cen­tives to use equip­ment in cir­cum­stances when the use is un­nec­es­sary. Un­der the 1033 pro­gram, lo­cal po­lice are re­quired to use the equip­ment within a year, in­cen­tiviz­ing towns to use it in in­ap­pro­pri­ate cir­cum­stances. Re­quire that re­cip­i­ents cer­tify that they can ac­count for all equip­ment. In 2012, the weapons por­tion of the 1033 pro­gram was tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended af­ter DOD found that a lo­cal sher­iff had gifted out army-sur­plus Humvees and other sup­plies. This bill would pro­hibit re-gift­ing and re­quire re­cip­i­ents to ac­count for all equip­ment re­ceived from DOD.

The bill adds re­quire­ments to en­force track­ing mech­a­nisms that keep up with and con­trol trans­fers of the equip­ment, im­ple­ment poli­cies en­sur­ing that po­lice agen­cies can’t sur­plus the equip­ment for re­sale and de­fine drones more clearly.

The Pen­tagon’s 1033 Pro­gram per­mits sur­plus U.S. mil­i­tary equip­ment, such as Mine-Re­sis­tant Am­bush Pro­tected ve­hi­cles (MRAPs), Humvees and au­to­matic weapons from war­zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be trans­ferred to mu­nic­i­pal po­lice de­part­ments free of charge. While ap­pro­pri­ate in a war, much of this equip­ment is not suited for civil­ian law en­force­ment.

Orig­i­nal co-spon­sors are: Reps. John Cony­ers, D-MI; Jim Mo­ran, D-VA; Justin Amash, R-MI; and Tom McClin­tock, R-CA. The House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Over­sight & In­ves­ti­ga­tions will hold a hear­ing on the 1033 Pro­gram on Fri­day, Sept. 19.

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