Lawmakers Want to End Transfers of Military Equipment to Police

Image: Lawmakers Want to End Transfers of Military Equipment to Police Police take up position to control demonstrators who were protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Friday, 15 Aug 2014 02:40 PM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
U.S. lawmakers alarmed by the aggressive police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, are pushing for Congress to limit the Pentagon's ability to provide civilian police departments with military equipment such as armored vehicles designed for the battlefield.

Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson wrote colleagues in the House of Representatives this week seeking support for legislation to curtail a program that passes surplus equipment from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to municipal U.S. police forces, free of charge.

Because of the program "our local police are quickly beginning to resemble paramilitary forces," Johnson said.

Three other Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican, to ask for a committee hearing on "recent incidents of local law enforcement using excessive force." They pointed to events in Ferguson, where demonstrators have protested the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by police, and elsewhere.

The "brutal force" used against the Ferguson demonstrators, including the use of riot gear, armored vehicles, and tear gas and rubber bullets, raised concerns that "local law enforcement is out of control," the lawmakers said. The letter was written by Representatives John Conyers, Steve Cohen and Bobby Scott.

Police on Friday named Darren Wilson as the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson, a largely black suburb of St. Louis.

Days of protests over Brown's death have cast a spotlight on racial tensions in greater St. Louis, where civil rights groups have complained in the past of racial profiling by police.

A House Judiciary Committee spokeswoman on Friday stopped short of promising a hearing on the Ferguson events, but said Goodlatte supported efforts to conduct a thorough investigation into the events surrounding Brown's death.

"The committee will be monitoring the results of the investigation and surrounding events," the spokeswoman said.

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, expressed shock on Friday at the "military-like" police response in Ferguson. "Equipping police officers with the tools of war does nothing to repair a torn community," he said.

A Johnson spokesman said on Friday he would introduce his bill when Congress returns to work in September. It would limit the type of equipment that the Pentagon can transfer to police.

Johnson's letter said numerous cities and towns around the country had acquired free MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored personnel vehicles from war zones in recent months.

"Unprecedented amounts of military equipment" were given away not only to police in cities, but on college campuses, Johnson wrote. "Ohio State University recently acquired an MRAP. Apparently college kids are getting too rowdy."

The issue was already percolating in Congress before the Ferguson events. In June, the House of Representatives voted 355-62 against a proposal by Democrat Alan Grayson of Florida to block funding for the military equipment transfers to police.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Jihadists Urge Killing of Citizens from US-led Coalition

Monday, 22 Sep 2014 06:07 AM

The Islamic State group called on Muslims to kill citizens of all countries taking part in the US-led anti-jihadist coal . . .

Israeli Agent Who Hunted Down Munich Olympic Killers Dies at 87

Monday, 22 Sep 2014 06:01 AM

Mike Harari, the Israeli Mossad spy who directed an assassination campaign against Palestinians suspected of involvement . . .

Rush Limbaugh's Call Screener: Liberalism 'Horrific' to Black Communities

Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 22:23 PM

Calling liberalism's effect on black communities "horrific," the longtime call screener for Rush Limbaugh says that for  . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved