Van Hollen, Paul, Schatz Reintroduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act
Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduced the bipartisan Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (S. 3931) to establish limitations and create greater transparency on the federal transfer of surplus military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. This prohibition only applies to offensive equipment and does not prohibit the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.
“Our police are meant to protect and serve our communities – not turn our streets into battlefields with tanks and heavy artillery. We've seen firsthand how the transfer of these weapons has contributed to the militarization of our police departments – leading to the further erosion of police-community relations and the escalation of violence. It’s time to stop putting these weapons on our streets now,” said Sen. Van Hollen.
“For years, I have fought to stop the federal militarization of local police departments. I support our officers, but I do not believe it is beneficial for neighborhoods across the United States to have the same kind of military-grade weapons that are commonly used in Afghanistan. The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act institutes key reforms while ensuring officers still have access to protective equipment so they can do their jobs as safely as possible,” said Sen. Paul.
“Weapons of war don’t belong in our local police departments and should never be used against the American people,” said Sen. Schatz. “This is not the only thing we need to do, but as we see our communities turning into what looks more like a war zone, it’s clear that we need to fix this.”
The bill text is available here.
A summary is available below:
S. 3931, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act:
- Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment: Prohibits the federal transfer of militarized equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies – including MRAPs, drones, and armored vehicles.
- As noted above, this prohibition only applies to offensive equipment and does not prohibit the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.
- Enacts comprehensive reforms: These prohibitions will apply to the three federal transfer and grant programs that are most utilized to militarize police forces – the DOD 1033 program, the DOJ Byrne JAG grant program, and DHS Preparedness grants.
- Reduces surplus equipment: According to the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), a substantial amount of equipment transferred to law enforcement under the 1033 program is either new or barely used. Under this bill, recipients of federal transfers of military equipment must prove the equipment is not surplus to their needs and are required to return it to DOD if it is.
- Increases transparency for transfers: The Defense Logistics Agency will create a website that displays all the property transferred under the 1033 program and which state and local agencies have received the property.
- Requires the return of prohibited equipment: Each federal or state agency that has received prohibited equipment through the 1033 program is required to return it to DOD. The cost for the return of such equipment will be supported by the DOJ Byrne JAG program and the DHS Preparedness grant program.
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