Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the Trump administration’s announcement Monday that it would remove restrictions instituted by former President Barack Obama on the flow of military equipment to local law enforcement.
In a press release, Paul also announced legislation prohibiting the transfer of some military equipment to local law enforcement (read an outline of the legislation below).
“It is one thing for federal officials to work with local authorities to reduce or solve crime,” Paul said in a statement Monday, “but it is another for them to subsidize militarization.”
He added: “Any order that comes today still needs to be funded, and I will bring this issue to the Senate floor, including through reintroducing my Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act.”
The restrictions were put in place following the heavily militarized police presence during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri after the police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown. “There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don’t want those lines blurred,” Obama said in August 2014, nearly a year before he announced the restrictions.
On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the Fraternal Order of Police’s national convention that Trump would sign an executive order rolling back Obama’s restrictions, as he had promised to do on the campaign trail.
Paul, who called for the demilitarization of local police forces during the Ferguson protests in 2014, used many of the same points to criticize the Trump administration on Monday. The weapons-sharing program began in 1990 as part of the federal war on drugs, the Associated Press noted Monday. Eventually, the equipment was used as part of the war on terrorism, and local law police departments’ increasingly militarized responses to street demonstrations.
Read an outline of Paul’s proposed legislation, included in his press release Monday:
- Prohibits the federal transfer of militarized equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, drones and armored vehicles transferred through the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033, U.S. Department of Justice’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Grant programs.
- This prohibition only applies to offensive equipment and does not prohibit the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.
- Helps increase the transparency and accountability of these programs by requiring the Defense Logistics Agency to create a website that displays all of the property transferred under the 1033 program, as well as the state and local agencies who have received the equipment.
- Requires the Government Accountability Office to analyze the use of military-style training and equipment by all federal agencies, including the usefulness and justification for the use of such equipment.
- Mandates the return of all equipment currently being used by law enforcement agencies that is prohibited under this legislation.
- Requires each agency that receives equipment to have 100 percent accountability of the property they receive and requires a programmatic review of how federal agencies with SWAT or other tactical response teams use the equipment.
This post has been updated.