UPDATE (07/21/20): With a final vote of 51-49, the amendment to demilitarize local police has failed to reach the 60 vote threshold needed to be added to the 2021 NDAA. However, Congress can still pass legislation to end the controversial 1033 Program.
UPDATE (07/20/20): The Senate is expected to vote on amendments to the 2021 NDAA the week of July 20th. Demand your Senator support the amendment to begin the process of demilitarizing local police.
UPDATE (06/29/20): Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would limit the transfer of most military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies. The amendment would ban the transfer of tear gas, armor-piercing firearms and ammunition, bayonets, grenades, grenade launchers, combat tracked vehicles, and drones, while still allowing the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.
In 2017, the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era ban on the transfer of surplus military equipment to state, local and tribal police agencies, resuming the controversial “1033 Program” which arms the police with excess military gear. The ban was originally put in place in the wake of brutal and militaristic police department responses to black activist demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.
The policy reversal once again made military equipment such as armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, and fifty caliber guns available to police forces, ignoring common sense and the recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This move only served to inflame already strained relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve despite Department of Justice claims that they sought to improve police morale and curb spikes in violence.
To help end the militarization of our local police departments Congress must pass legislation that will control the movement of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement. Demand your elected officials support legislation to end this transfer.