Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) said Friday the chamber “will review” the so-called 1033 program under which the Pentagon transfers surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.
“Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents. Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended,” Levin said.
His statement comes amid a national outcry over images of a militarized police force in Ferguson cracking down on civilians protesting the police shooting an unarmed 18-year-old black man last Saturday. On Thursday, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced legislation to prohibit Pentagon transfers of certain military-grade equipment to local law enforcement.
Levin will step down in January; he isn’t seeking reelection.