Paul: Police should give back military gear
© Getty Images

Presidential candidate Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulErdoğan: Turkey to announce findings of Khashoggi investigation on Tuesday Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Rand Paul: Saudi explanation of Khashoggi's death 'insulting' MORE is rolling out legislation that require local law enforcement agencies to return some of the military-grade equipment that was transferred to them by the federal government.

The Kentucky Republican, along with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), has introduced the Stop Militarizing Our Law Enforcement Act, which would also block the transfer of "offensive" military equipment to state and local police agencies in the future.

The legislation would still allow for law enforcement to get body armor and other "defensive" equipment.

ADVERTISEMENT

The senators said the legislation would impact transfers under current programs overseen by the Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security departments, and would stop local and state law enforcement officials from receiving Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, drones and armored vehicle, among other things.

“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," Paul said in a statement.

"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."

In a move the two senators said would help increase transparency, the legislation requires the Defense Logistics Agency to start a website that includes information on all transfers under the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which allows the department to give equipment to more than 8,000 state and local agencies.

The legislation would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study how the federal government is using military-style training and equipment to determine whether it's useful and if the equipment is justified.

The two senators’ proposal comes after the controversial police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., last year, in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer. Images of officers in military gear and driving military vehicles sparked a national conversation about what critics warn is a dangerous escalation in the firepower of state and local law enforcement.

President Obama announced earlier this month that the administration would place limits on military-style equipment transferred from the federal government to local law enforcement.  

But Paul and Schatz said their legislation would go further by requiring state and local agencies to return any equipment banned under the bill that had already been transferred from the government.

Schatz said U.S. residents “were shocked by images of police responding in protests in Ferguson, Mo., outfitted as if going to war.”

“As we rebuild the trust between communities and the police, we have to address the role that the federal government has played in supplying law enforcement with battlefield equipment,” the Hawaii Democrat added.