DearColleague.us

Letter

 

From: The Honorable Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
Sent By:
meghan.wicker@mail.house.gov

Date: 3/1/2017

Help Stop Militarizing Our Police

Cosponsor the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

Supporting Organizations: American Civil Liberties Union, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Drug Policy Alliance, Defending Dissent Foundation, Rise Up Georgia, RootsAction, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, National Organization
of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Bend the Arc Jewish Action & Bend the Arc, Justice League NYC

Cosponsors (49) in 114th Congress: Ellison, Holmes Norton, Scott (VA), Clark (MA), Chu, Speier, Clay, Nadler, Lee (CA), Edwards, Van Hollen, Conyers, Rangel, Scott (D-GA), Amash, Farr, Tonko, Lofgren, Perlmutter, Cardenas, Blumenauer,
Lowenthal, Jackson Lee, O’Rourke, Pallone, Serrano, Grijalva, Hastings, McDermott, Kaptur, Lewis (GA), Rush, Honda, DeGette, Cummings, Deutch, Danny Davis, Pocan, Waters, McClintock, Grayson, Cohen, McGovern, Defazio, Schakowsky, DeLauro, DeSaulnier, Bass,
Watson Coleman

 

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in
reintroducing the bipartisan legislation, the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.”
This bill would end free transfers of certain military equipment to local law enforcement in order to limit the excessive use of force and military-grade weapons against Americans, especially at protest sites.

Under the
Pentagon’s excess property, or “1033,” program
, the Department of Defense has transferred $4.2
billion in excess military equipment to our streets with almost no oversight. Recently, a

large number
of small
towns
have been given tank-like Mine Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs). Others have received

grenade launchers
and high-caliber assault rifles.
Even campus police
are receiving advanced equipment and weaponry.

Reigning in the 1033 program is especially important in light of the Army’s February 7th letter of intent to grant easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Last year attempts to resume building the pipeline at Standing Rock resulted in widespread
protests and these protests were met with a
heavy and well-documented law enforcement response
. North Dakota law enforcement has received over

three million dollars in military weapons and equipment
through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program. Many local departments, including the North Dakota Morton County Sheriff’s Office, have received equipment through the program. The North Dakota Attorney
General Bureau of Criminal Investigations received military aircraft and a small arms weapon suppressors or silencers. The Richland County and Stutsman County Sheriffs’ Offices also

acquired Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs)
through the program.

Equipment transferred through the 1033 program may have been used against the Standing Rock protestors and other protests sites, such as Ferguson and Baltimore.

Our Founders opposed using a “standing army” to patrol our streets. In fact, James Madison

called
this “one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.” Under the 1033 program however, America’s streets are becoming increasingly militarized. That is why we are introducing the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.” This bill will do
four things:

  1. Prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as military weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, weaponized drones, armored military vehicles, and grenades or similar explosives.
  2. End incentives to use equipment inappropriately. Under the 1033 program, police are required to use the equipment within a year of receiving it, possibly incentivizing unnecessary use. A recent study found that only

    7 percent
    of SWAT deployments – which often involve military gear – were for hostage or active shooter scenarios. This bill would eliminate the one year requirement and give local law enforcement discretion to use the equipment when necessary.
  3. Require that recipients certify that they can account for all military weapons and equipment. In 2012, the weapons portion of the 1033 program was temporarily suspended after DOD

    found
    that a local sheriff gifted out army-excess Humvees and other supplies. This bill would prohibit re-gifting and require recipients to account for all DOD weapons and equipment.
  4. Requires the Department of Defense to claw back excess personal property from state and law enforcement agencies which are being investigated by the Department of Justice for any violation of civil liberties or are otherwise found to have engaged
    in widespread abuses of civil liberties.

Our neighborhoods need to be protected, but Americans oppose blurring the line between the police and military. A recent poll found that
58 percent of Americans believe local police should not be given military weapons. Before more grenade launchers are gifted to another small town, we must reign in this program
and consider the consequences of a militarized America.

Please join me in cosponsoring the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.”

If you have any questions about the bill or the program, please contact Oleg Svet at 5-1605 or
oleg.svet@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

/s

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Member of Congress