Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) is seeking bipartisan support for his bill, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014, 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.
Rep. Johnson’s bill will also add requirements to enforce tracking mechanisms that keep up with and control transfers of the equip-ment, implement policies ensuring that police agencies can’t sell as surplus the equipment they receive under the program, and define drones more clearly.
Ask your Representative to become a co-sponsor of this bill. Background Info The Department of Defense provides military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear. Due to the defense industry’s bloated contracts, there is a huge surplus. To date, the Pentagon has donated military equipment worth more than $4 billion to local law enforcement agencies. And the giving goes on, to police forces in all 50 states in the union.
After loading up with free military gear, it is no surprise that law enforcement agents want to use it. In fact, the 1033 program’s regulations require that the police use what they receive within one year. In the absence of extreme violence or actual terrorist threat, what happens — as the American Civil Liberties Union has documented — is that the equipment and weapons are used by SWAT teams in routine situations, such as low-level drug raids or the execution of search warrants.
While the Department of Defense hands over weapons directly, the Department of Homeland Security provides funding for arms. It has distributed more than $34 billion through “terrorism grants,” enabling local police departments to acquire such absurd items as a surveillance drone and an Army tank.
The federal government can stop this increased militarization at its source. The Pentagon must end its transfer of military-grade weapons through the 1033 program. And the Department of Homeland Security should stop handing out the terrorism grants.
Oppose any new authorization for war in Iraq or Syria ~Ask Congress to engage in a full & thoughtful debate on a new authorization for war in Iraq or Syria. This debate needs to happen NOW, not after elections in November. ~Ask them to vote "no" on any new authorization for war in Iraq or Syria. ~Ask them to call for an end to the bombing. The brutal violence perpetrated by the Islamic State demands a response. The U.S. must act with other nations and regional stakeholders to end extremist violence, help the victims and address the terrible short and long-term humanitarian consequences of the fighting. But we have seen that U.S. military intervention can’t resolve conflicts that demand a political response.
We've seen 13 years of U.S. war in Iraq. The Iraq of today is a legacy of that war. Bombing will continue the bloodshed and enable violent, anti-government groups like the Islamic State to recruit supporters.
Instead, the U.S. should invest in humanitarian assistance, work to keep weapons from flowing into Iraq and Syria, and engage diplomatically with all parties to the conflict. The Islamic State needs to face justice for its criminal actions, but bombing won't accomplish that goal.
In your letter, consider including some specific question(s) you want Congress to debate. Below are some possibilities; you may think of others.
What could be the unintended consequences of this action? Will it stabilize Iraq? Will Syria regard it as an act of war? Will Russia? Will it reduce terrorism? What will be the “collateral damage”? Is it just the run-up to having boots on the ground? Do we know who will benefit from this bombing campaign? Do we know who will suffer?