The images on the news of police wearing helmets and masks, toting assault rifles, and riding in mine-resistant armored vehicles are not isolated incidents—they represent a nationwide trend of police militarization. Federal programs providing surplus military equipment, along with departments’ own purchases, have outfitted officers with firepower that is often far beyond what is necessary for their jobs as protectors of their communities. Sending a heavily armed team of officers to perform “normal” police work can dangerously escalate situations that need never have involved violence. Yet the ACLU’s recent report on police militarization, “War Comes Home,” found that SWAT teams, which were originally devised as special responders for emergency situations, are deployed for drug searches more than they are for all other purposes combined.
A big part of this issue has to do with what is called, The Department of Defense Excess Property Program, or DoD 1033. "The 1033 Program provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety."
Support the coalition of Black and ally groups in the Movement for Black Lives as they work to “End the War on Black Lives” by learning about police accountability and reform efforts, including demilitarization of law enforcement. Get involved locally and also follow House bill 1232 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act at bit.ly/1232bill
The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, if re-introduced in this Congress, would limit the Department of Defense's (DOD's) authority to transfer excess personal property to federal and state law enforcement agencies and remove DOD's authority to transfer property for counter-drug activities.
As people of faith, is it our call to raise the issue of police militarization with our law makers "Peacemaking is essential for human development and for the church's faithfulness to Christ. It requires actions to reduce militarization and to address the unmet needs that aggravate tensions. (Hope for a Global Future: Toward Just and Sustainable Human Development, approved by the 208th General Assembly). We insist that jobs, good schools and great healthcare make our communities safer, not the weapons of war.