Sen. Rand Paul expanded on his opposition to the Trump administration's decision to reverse the ban on giving surplus military equipment to local law enforcement in an opinion piece in the New York Post.
The article came on the heels of a series of tweets that the Kentucky Republican sent out stating he was against the decision.
Rand explained that although he has the utmost respect for the police, who perform difficult work and protect communities, the problem is that "Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear."
The senator noted that a large percentage of the equipment, about one-third, is new, so it is not correct to portray the surplus as banged-up supplies lying around a warehouse.
Rand emphasized that the problem becomes even more apparent "when we couple militarizing law enforcement with the erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury — national-security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction asset forfeiture."
He said this is particularly true for minorities, as is evidenced by the fact that "prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for nonviolent mistakes in their youth."
Rand stressed that "Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an elusive and dangerous — or false — security. The militarization of our law enforcement is just another symptom of an overall problem that stems from an unprecedented expansion of government power — where we are repeatedly asked to make such 'liberty for what we tell you is security' tradeoffs."
But he warned that "if we sacrifice the very nature of the institutions we have set up to enforce the law, what kind of law will we end up enforcing?"
Rand vowed that when Congress returns to session he would reintroduce a bill that would prohibit the federal transfer of offensive militarized equipment to local law enforcement and urged the administration to reconsider its decision and take into account concerns citizens have raised regarding police militarization.
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