Hank Johnson Wants to Halt DOD Military Weapons Going to Local Police
The unrest in Ferguson, MO in 2014, following the shooting of Michael Brown, gave us startling images of protestors with their hands up facing automatic weapons raised at them by police. Those weapons come via a program of the Department of Defense (DOD) which transfers excess military equipment to federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Since these images helped bring this issue to light, Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) has called for more transparency on this program and would bring some of these weapons transfer to a halt. He re-introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act last week. The measure would 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. The bill would also require those who already have these weapons and equipment in their possession to certify that they can account for all of them. In 2012, the DOD weapons portion of the program was temporarily suspended after the agency found that a local sheriff gifted out army-surplus Humvees and other supplies. “Our neighborhoods need to be protected, but Americans and our founding fathers opposed blurring the line between police and the military,” said Johnson. “Before another small town is transformed into a warzone with gifts of grenade launchers and high-caliber rifles, we must rein in this program and revisit our view of the future safety of American cities and towns.” More here.