A bill introduced in the Washington State House would help block the federal militarization of local police, and indirectly help thwart federal efforts to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Introduced by State Reps. Matt Shea (R-4), David Taylor (R-15), Graham Hunt (R-2), Cary Condotta (R-12), Elizabeth Scott (R-39), Jesse Young (R-26), and Bob McCaslin (R-4), House Bill 2203 (HB2203) would measures of oversight making it more difficult for law enforcement to obtain military hardware through the controversial Department of Defense (DoD) 1033 Program.
The bill reads, in part:
(1) An application for the enrollment of a county or municipal law enforcement agency in any program established by the United States department of defense… must be approved by a resolution adopted by a majority of the full membership of the governing body of a local unit prior to the transmittal of any such application to the state coordinator of any such program.
(2) The acquisition of any property by a county or municipal law enforcement agency enrolled in any program established by the United States department of defense… must be approved by a resolution adopted by a majority of the full membership of the governing body of a local unit.
The bill also gives a lengthy and informative justification for its contents, making clear that the intent of HB2203 is not to put law enforcement in harms way, but rather to restore local and state control over law enforcement:
It is not the legislature’s intent to deny county and municipal law enforcement agencies access to equipment vital to public safety and counterterrorism efforts, but elected civilian officials, such as mayors, municipal councilmembers, county executives, and county freeholders, are ultimately responsible for the supervision, policies, and budgetary decisions governing these entities.
As we saw during in the aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo. last year, local police have turned into militarized forces with little respect for the people they were meant to serve. And Ferguson was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
The ACLU recently released a report chronicling the militarization of local law enforcement. It documents the rapid increase SWAT team deployment utilizing paramilitary tactics. According to the ACLU, in nearly 80 percent of the cases, SWAT teams were rolled out for nothing more than serving warrants, usually relating to drug crimes. Almost daily, we hear reports of innocent people getting hurt in these raids.
“They’ve turned ‘protect and serve’ into ‘command and control,’” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said.
Washington D.C. can largely take credit for creating the aggressive paramilitary response America witnessed in Ferguson, and played out on a smaller scale in cities across America every day.
In the 1980s, the federal government began arming, funding and training local police forces, turning peace officers into soldiers to fight in its unconstitutional “War on Drugs.” The militarization went into hyper-drive after 9/11 when a second front opened up – the “War on Terror.”
Through the DoD 1033 Program, local police departments procure military grade weapons, including automatic assault rifles, body armor and mine resistant armored vehicles – essentially unarmed tanks. Police departments can even get their hands on military helicopters.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) runs the “Homeland Security Grant Program,” which in 2013 gave more than $900 million in counterterrorism funds to state and local police. According to a 2012 Senate report, this money has been used to purchase tactical vehicles, drones, and even tanks with little obvious benefit to public safety. And, according to ProPublica, “In 1994, the Justice Department and the Pentagon funded a five-year program to adapt military security and surveillance technology for local police departments that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”
By putting restrictions upon law enforcement receiving to this military-grade gear, it makes them less likely to cooperate with the feds and removes incentive for partnerships. Bills like HB2203 can serve as a tool to put the squeeze on the enforcement of unconstitutional laws by denying the warrior cops the feds need to enforce their “laws.”
HB2203 was officially filed on March 23. It must pass successfully through the House Public Safety Committee before it can receive a full vote on the state house floor.
In Washington: Support this bill by following all the steps at THIS LINK
For other states: Take action to push back against federal militarization of your police at this link.