Rep. Johnson seeks cosponsors for bill to de-militarize police

Congressman wants to reform Pentagon’s 1033 Program that gives military-grade weapons to local law enforcement departments for free

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) announced he is seeking bipartisan support for his bill, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014, which would place restrictions and transparency measures on the Department of Defense (DOD) Program that transfers surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Read Rep. Johnson's op-ed in The USA Today in March, 2014 on this issue | To see what what your local police received free from the DOD, click HERE.

The Pentagon’s 1033 Program permits surplus U.S. military equipment, such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), Humvees and automatic weapons from warzones in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be transferred to city police departments free of charge. While these military-grade weapons are much-needed by our military on the field of battle, Rep. Johnson recognizes that they are of no use to city police departments whose purpose is to protect American civilians.

Rep. Johnson’s bill will also add requirements to enforce tracking mechanisms that keep up with and control transfers of the equipment, implement policies ensuring that police agencies can’t sell as surplus the equipment they receive under the program and define drones more clearly.

“Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent. Before another small town's police force gets a $700,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can't maintain or manage, it behooves us to press pause on Pentagon's 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America,” said Johnson.