The Durango Herald’s recent article “Retired military vehicles see action during floods” (Aug. 1) romanticizes the role of vehicles and weapons obtained via the 1033 Program. These vehicles give law enforcement agencies across the country incentive to utilize overly-militarized responses to domestic issues – particularly in communities of color. As the article states, “The first law enforcement agency to claim the item will receive the equipment.”
According to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense gave over $1.2 million worth of sensitive equipment banned for release to the public to a fictitious federal agency, demonstrating the lack of oversight and accountability within the current 1033 Program.
The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (S. 1856) would introduce necessary oversights to the 1033 Program such as increased accountability and would prohibit the transfer of certain types of weapons/vehicles to law enforcement agencies.
This would not limit the transfer of things like “bicycles, canine kennels, cold-weather equipment, portable lights, rafts, scuba equipment or trailers,” but rather avoid providing law enforcement agencies with automatic weapons that incentivize aggressively militarized responses to domestic issues.
As a resident of Durango, a student at Fort Lewis College and an advocate who understands this system of policing is not sustainable, I urge Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Cory Gardner to consider co-signing the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (S. 1856).