A Georgia Congressman has introduced a bill that aims to get military-grade weapons and equipment out of the hands of local law enforcement agencies.
Today, Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, re-introduced the bipartisan Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2021 that would place restrictions and transparency measures on the “1033 program,” which allows the Department of Defense to transfer excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies.
The bipartisan bill was introduced with 75 cosponsors. To view the bill, click HERE.
“Our neighborhoods need to be protected, but Americans and our founding fathers opposed blurring the line between police and the military,” said Johnson. “What has been made perfectly clear – especially in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder – is that Black and Brown communities are policed one way – with a warrior mentality – and white and more affluent communities are policed another way. Before another 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 safety of American cities and towns.”
Johnson, a former DeKalb County Commissioner, said there is something fundamentally flawed with local law enforcement departments bypassing their local governing authority – such as a county commission, board or council – to receive weapons of war without any local accountability.
Through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office, which oversees the 1033 program, the Department of Defense has transferred $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment – often from warzones overseas – to local law enforcement agencies across the United States.
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 the Department of Defense 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 weapons and equipment.
- The bill adds requirements to enforce tracking mechanisms that keep up with and control transfers of the equipment, implements policies ensuring that police agencies can’t surplus the equipment for resale, and defines drones more clearly.