SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Jan. 29, 2016) – A bill filed in the Illinois Senate would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from obtaining certain types of military hardware from the federal government, and would require public notice before they acquire authorized equipment. Passage of this legislation would represent a big step toward stopping the federal militarization of state and local police.

Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) introduced Senate Bill 2256 (SB2256) on Jan. 27. The legislation would prohibit local police and county sheriffs from procuring the following military surplus equipment from any federal program.

  • Tracked armored vehicles
  • Weaponized aircraft, vessels or vehicles
  • Firearms of .50 caliber or higher
  • Ammunition of .50 caliber or higher
  • Grenade launchers
  • Bayonets
  • Camouflage uniforms

The legislation would also require a local police agency or sheriff’s office to give public notice within 14 days after requesting allowable military surplus equipment.

This type of public disclosure could lead to public pressure to stop militarization at the local level before it happens.

The law would not only apply to equipment available through the federal 1033 Program, but also to gear available for purchase using grants offered by the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.


Through the federal 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 and other aircraft.

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.”

Local agencies almost never have the funds needed to purchase this kind of equipment, and federal money is the only way they can afford it. By banning purchases with federal funding, SB2256 would effectively nullify the effect of such federal “grant” programs.


“Arming ‘peace officers’ like they’re ready to occupy an enemy city is totally contrary to the society envisioned by the Founders,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “They’ve turned ‘protect and serve’ into ‘command and control.’”

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.”

By stripping state and local police of this military-grade gear and requiring them to report on their acquisition and use, it makes them less likely to cooperate with the feds and removes incentives for partnerships.


SB2256 has been referred to the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee.

If you live in Illinois: For action steps to follow to help get SB2256 passed click HERE.

For other states: Take action to push back against federal militarization of your police HERE.

Mike Maharrey

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