Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) re-introduced the bipartisan Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2019 – H.R. 1714 – that would place restrictions and transparency measures on the Department of Defense (DOD) Program that transfers excess military equipment to federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
“Before another small town is transformed into a warzone with gifts of grenade launchers and high-caliber rifles, we must rein in this program and revisit our view of the future safety of American cities and towns,” said Johnson.
Johnson said there is something fundamentally flawed with local law enforcement departments bypassing their local governing authority – such as a commission, board or council – to receive weapons of war without any local accountability.
Through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office, or “1033 program”, the Department of Defense has transferred more than $6.8 billion in surplus military equipment – often from warzones overseas – to communities without charge.
In 2017, President Trump rescinded Obama’s executive order and fully restored the Pentagon’s 1033 program.
Republicans Justin Amash (R-MI) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) are among 66 original cosponsors of the bill.
The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act would:
- Prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as military weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, weaponized drones, armored military vehicles, and grenades or similar explosives.
- Require that recipients certify that they can account for all military weapons and equipment. In 2012, the weapons portion of the 1033 program was temporarily suspended after DOD found that a local sheriff gifted out army-surplus Humvees and other supplies. This bill would prohibit re-gifting and require recipients to account for all DOD weapons and equipment.
The bill adds requirements to enforce tracking mechanisms that keep up with and control transfers of the equipment, implement policies ensuring that police agencies can’t surplus the equipment for resale, and defines drones more clearly.
Cosponsors (66): Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Al Green (TX-9), Rep. Al Lawson (FL-5), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), Rep. Andy Levin (MI-9), Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-2), Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4), Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-1), Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Rep. Chuy García (IL-4), Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7), Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1), Rep. David Scott (GA-13), Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1), Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1), Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-3), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-1), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-4), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2), Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Rep. John Lewis (GA-5), Rep. José Serrano (NY-15), Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3), Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-5), Rep. Lacy Clay (MO-1), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33), Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), Rep. Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Ron Beyer (VA-8), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-4), Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).
Supporting Organizations: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Friends Service Committee, American Humanist Association Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic), Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces, Drug Policy Alliance, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Government Information Watch Human Rights Watch, Indivisible, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Council of Churches, National Immigration Project NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Open the Government, Pax Christi USA, PolicyLink Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, South East Asian Faith Initiatives, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society Win Without War.