Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Effort to Block Military Equipment for Local Police Stifled

Grayson leaves the Capitol following the last vote of the week on April 4, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Grayson leaves the Capitol following the last vote of the week on April 4. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A New York Times story on the military giving equipment like grenade launchers and M-16s to local law enforcement caused a stir when the newspaper published it earlier this month. The American Civil Liberties Union has an ongoing project to detail such militarization.

On Wednesday evening, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., offered an amendment on the House floor to block military-to-police transfers of specific equipment. It didn’t make it very far.

The amendment was struck down on a point of order during consideration of the fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill, meaning it wasn’t put up for a vote, and it was never debated on its merits. But Grayson got a chance to speak on why he thought he thought it was pertinent to halt the transfer of war gear to local police departments.

“I think this is appalling,” he said. “This would prohibit the Department of Defense of gifting drones, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bombs and so on to local police departments. there is no mass rebellion brewing here in the United States. There are no improvised explosive devices. But this is happening nevertheless.”

Some police chiefs have defended the transfers, since the equipment would be destroyed if left unclaimed and because it allows them to acquire items they couldn’t afford out of their own budget. The transfer program dates to the 1990s.

The Times article is not the first time war gear making its way into local police departments has been in the spotlight, with the Iraq War formally over and the war in Afghanistan now with a deadline for winding down.

Comments (31)

  1. Jack Everett

    June 19, 2014
    12:46 p.m.

    Just whats not needed is more militarization of civilian police forces. I hope the wing nuts are happy with their patriot act and all the treason it allows. Our local police forces have been turned into military storm troopers. This is nothing though compared to whats going to happen when the Northern Command takes over civil law enforcement.

    I’ll never forget watching the manhunt for one teenager after the
    Boston bombing while militarized storm trooper police raided neighborhoods and dragged people (some of them nearly naked) from their homes with their hands over their heads without warrants. The idea that our police drive armored tanks down suburban streets with gun turrets carrying weapons that not even Saddam Hussein owned made me far more terrified than the idea of a lone bomber on the loose. Watching my fellow Americans be ripped out of their homes without cause and forced to run down the street without looking back while police invaded their lives and privacy was chilling. This was all in the name of safety. I remember at the time I thought, “Oh, the lawsuits are going to be expensive!” but I don’t think anyone sued, or if they did, no one cared
    enough to report it. It was the definition of illegal search and seizure on television! But instead of outrage, the television was covered in people so thankful to the police for their heroic actions in finding one wounded teen hiding in a boat. (Who, by the way,was actually found by a guy who looked into his backyard and noticed something odd. The tanks and the hysterics didn’t contribute one iota to finding the bomber. Just an alert citizen.) Storm troopers on parade

    • MrMarco855 .

      July 14, 2014
      2:08 a.m.

      I was as apalled as you were, and as all citizens should be. What took place wasn’t necessary, but that’s not even the main issue. This is all part of a process, and the events that ‘necessitated’ the military style response that took place in Boston were not arbitrary events conducted by terrorists. That’s the real issue.
      The debate regarding the use of military type vehicles, forcing people out of their homes at gunpoint, the apparent over-reaction and use of authority, as bad as they are, are just secondary issues that provide camouflage for what we should be really be concerned about.
      I’ll just say this; the Boston bombing was staged. I know, some will say I’m wrong,……… or worse. I’m not going to get into a back and forth debate with a disengenious adversary on this, but if you are skeptical of what I’m saying, would you use 10 minutes of your time to decide for yourself? This is the most important issue you may ever consider, I think 10 minutes isn’t too much time to use if it’s this important. There is a video titled boston bombing, flash mob fools the world. The person that put the video on youtube narrates it also, and it goes by quickly and is well done. Be patient and observe carefully what the video shows you. It’s interrupted very briefly for a short explanation of what you’ll see next, but it’s as indisputable as anything I’ve ever seen in it’s content and revelation.

  2. Richard

    June 23, 2014
    2:17 p.m.

    As a civilian, I too am against complete militarization of civilian police forces. And we’re doing it in the name of security, I am sure there are numerous other ways to do it. Let’s concentrate more on how we can provide our people with improved level of safety without having to militarize everything.

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