Policing bill authors to get action they’ve long sought

June 21, 2020
In The News

‘In the minds of the public’

The bill also includes language from another senior Judiciary Democrat, Hank Johnson of Georgia, to limit the types of military equipment that can be transferred to local law enforcement. Johnson said he’s introduced the bill every Congress since 2014 but it wasn’t until the protests after Floyd’s death, when police lined the streets with military-grade weapons, that “it popped up front and center in the minds of the public.”

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2015 that implemented some of the provisions of Johnson’s bill, but President Donald Trump rescinded it in 2017, fulfilling a campaign promise to the Fraternal Order of Police.

Johnson said he hopes the FOP understands “the politics of the moment” and won’t oppose the package. Some groups pushing for police overhauls want a full ban on transfers of military equipment to police, but Johnson said his proposal strikes a balance.

“There is some surplus military property that is appropriate for accessibility by law enforcement agencies,” he said. “I wanted to get at the military-grade weaponry.”

Johnson’s bill is one of the few Democratic proposals backed by Republicans. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., is an original co-sponsor, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has pushed a similar measure in the Senate. The proposal’s supporters are also looking to attach it to the annual defense authorization bill.

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