Effort to Block Military Equipment for Local Police Stifled
Posted at 6 a.m. on June 19, 2014
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.