Lawmakers question DOJ police training tactics

Democratic lawmakers are questioning local law enforcement’s use of military style weapons in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Mo. 

Last week, a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown inciting riots in the St. Louis suburb. 

In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderJuan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts GOP governor vetoes New Hampshire bill to create independent redistricting commission Why target Tucker Carlson? It's part of the left's war on the right MORE, Virginia Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDemocrats: Trump plan could jeopardize 500,000 children's free school meals Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour MORE (D) said he’s concerned about reported abuse of FBI SWAT team tactics and the militarization of law enforcement. 

“Law enforcement officers should be appropriately equipped to deal with domestic law enforcement issues, but when a military response is appropriate, the National Guard should be called,” he said. 

The letter, which asks the Department of Justice a series of questions about how it trains officers was sent Tuesday. A day later, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

In addition to Scott, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) asked for information on the DOJ monitoring of military weapons used by local law enforcement, stats on the number of people who have been killed by SWAT team conduct in the last five year and a list of weapons that are off limits to local police. 

“In 2014 alone, there have been 34 deaths resulting from SWAT raids,” Johnson said. “We are concerned this number will continue to grow as the use of SWAT officers and militarized equipment increases across the country. We are alarmed by cases we heard of SWAT officers raiding the homes of civilians wrongly suspected of being involved in drug-related activity.”

Earlier this week, President Obama requested federal funding to purchase 50,000-body-worn cameras for police officers and moved to reform the way local police get military-style weapons. 

“We are strong proponents of ensuring our state and local police officers have the necessary equipment to protect themselves, but we do not condone law enforcement ‘s excessive use of force against civilian,” the letter said.