The president has taken steps to stop the militarization of local police forces but Rand Paul, with the help of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), has taken that action a step further by introducing the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act.
Similar to the president’s plans, the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act will cut down on the militarization of police forces by prohibiting the sale of certain equipment and vehicles to local police, but it will also make the process much more transparent.
This act will help to keep unnecessary military equipment like Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, drones, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and bayonets out of the hands of local law enforcement.
It will also require the creation of a website that tracks where equipment has gone. The Government Accountability Office will be required to analyze and oversee the use of military-style training and equipment by all federal agencies.
What really sets the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act apart from the president’s actions is the call for all of the weapons and equipment that will become prohibited under the new laws to be returned.
In the press release for his proposed legislation, Rand Paul said:
“Not surprisingly, big government in Washington has created an incentivized system in which local law enforcement is provided mass amounts of equipment to build up forces that resemble small armies. By putting these restrictions on the current transfer programs, we can eliminate the wasteful spending these programs have created and stop the militarization of our police forces.”
The militarization of our police forces came as a shock to much of the population during protests in Ferguson, Missouri. News footage resembled a war zone and many wondered just how it had come to that.
I can’t imagine what it would feel like to look out my window and see tanks and armed forces marching down the street! I can guess the feeling wouldn’t resemble safety and security.
Turning our police forces into small armies is something most lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can unite against.
According to NBC, President Obama said last month, when he announced the actions he was taking:
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force — as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them.”
He added that such gear “can alienate and intimidate residents and make them feel scared.”
In answer to a question from Buzzfeed, Senator Paul summed it up nicely when he said:
“I see no reason why a 20-ton mine resistant vehicle should ever roll down any city in our country.”
We want to know: Do you feel that the militarization of local police forces is necessary to combat rising violence in instances like the protests in Ferguson? Or do you agree with Rand Paul and the other proponents of demilitarization and the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act? Leave a comment below!
Written by Lacy Langley; Edited by staff
(Photo courtesy of Raymond Wambsgans, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
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