Presidential hopeful will target Pentagon transfers of weapons and vehicles to cops
Senator Rand Paul plans to reintroduce legislation to end the disturbing trend of military equipment ending up in the hands of domestic law enforcement departments across the country.
Paul’s staff revealed to Buzzfeed that the Kentucky Senator will re-energise the debate on the matter in 2015 as a priority.
He will focus on ending transfers of military weapons and vehicles under the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which has seen billions of dollars worth of excess military gear transferred to police and sheriff’s departments in the last two decades.
Paul’s legislation will be similar to that introduced earlier this year by retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, and Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia.
Rand Paul has previously slammed the militarization of police forces as “stupid” and “ridiculous”, saying that using the threat of terrorism as a justification is a tired excuse.
“FEMA gave out 12,000 bayonets last year. That’s just stupid.” The Senator urged recently. “We are giving out mine-resistant ambush protection vehicles — 20-ton vehicles. Dundee, Michigan, a town of 3,000, has a 20-ton mine-resistant ambush protection vehicle. That’s ridiculous,” he added.
“We have no-knock raids, and a little baby had a concussion grenade thrown in her face at one in the morning without a knock near Atlanta about two months ago,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a mistake of police being too aggressive, but sometimes it’s putting police in an untenable position to enforce laws that really we should not be enforcing with that degree of force.”
“It’s supposed to be for terrorism, but try to explain to me when terrorists are going to attack Dundee, Michigan, or Fargo, North Dakota.” Paul added.
As we have previously reported, several local law enforcement agencies have previously stated that they wish to return military gear which they feel was somewhat forced onto them by The Department of Defense. The counties in which the sheriff’s offices and police departments are based are being asked to absorb the cost of transporting huge armored vehicles.
The details were revealed in a report by The Washington Times, which found “a number of departments complaining about the heavy armored vehicles that have been transferred, finding them to be overkill for the jobs local law enforcement needs to do.”
Data released by the Pentagon in the wake of the Ferguson debacle, shows that the government has transferred nearly 80,000 rifles and 1,718 shotguns to counties throughout the US.
Los Angeles County alone has been the destination for 3,229 M16-A1 rifles and another 87 M14 rifles, while Leon County in Florida, which is home to Tallahassee, received 1,900 M16-A1 rifles and 111 M14 rifles, The Washington Times reports. All in all, it is estimated that $5.1 billion worth of excess military gear has been transferred to domestic law enforcement agencies, and that doesn’t even include similar programs run by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department.
The militarization of police in the US is now even extending into school police departments.
In an August op-ed for TIME, Paul slammed the police response to rioting in Ferguson, saying that “there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.”
“The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.” Paul noted, going on to cite several case studies to equate the militarization if police with “an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm.”
While the White House vowed to investigate the military surplus program in the wake of Ferguson, the issue now appears to have completely dropped off the radar.