Rand Paul’s staff confirms plans to introduce legislation
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been warning of the dangers of militarized police departments across the nation for some time. In August, he wrote in a Time op-ed that such militarization, combined with a developing “erosion of civil liberties and due process,” results in “no-knock searches, board general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture.”
“We begin to have a very serious problem,” he said at the time.
Now he’s going further, with plans raise the issue in the U.S. Senate during the next session.
According to a Buzzfeed report online, Paul’s staff members said he will reintroduce a bill that “goes after the federal programs that send military-grade equipment to local police departments.”
“Paul will be trying to force a Republican-controlled Senate to examine federal programs that funnel millions in grant money and surplus to arm local police forces with weapons and vehicles designed for the battlefield,” the report said.
It’s the federal government’s 1033 program that offers military grade equipment to local police departments and the like. It’s been controversial for a number of issues in recent months, including once when a flash-bang grenade was tossed into a home, and landed in the bed of a toddler.
Protesters also have blasted the program for providing police departments like that in Ferguson, Missouri, with armored vehicles for officers to use.
Author Cheryl Chumley recently explained a bill that Paul’s reportedly will be modeled after – a proposal from Sen. Tom Coburn.
She wrote, “Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma perhaps said it best. ‘There is no role in for the federal government in local and state police forces in our country,’ the Republican said, during a Tuesday hearing, the ‘Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement,’ of the full Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“Interestingly, his comments were followed minutes later by a statement from his Democratic colleague Sen. Claire McCaskill. ‘I am confident militarized [police] tactics are not consistent with the First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly,’ she said, reminding how Ferguson, Missouri, streets were recently overwhelmed with camo-dressed police carrying military-grade weapons and riding atop an armored vehicle. And one more point the Missouri Democrat raised: Florida police departments, for example, maintain among their equipment stocks dozens of MRAPs, or mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles. But Florida’s National Guard?
“None, she said.”
Chumley, author of the new “Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming our Reality” by WND Books, noted that with congressional talk, perhaps “reform could result.”
Buzzfeed said Paul’s decision to raise the issue will be a teste of its viability.
“Paul’s expected presidential run, which will likely launch next year, could put the issue back on the national agenda as well.”
Noted Chumley, “We have a president who brags about the power of the pen and phone to bypass Congress, an attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, who practically conducts surveillance operations on the press – and taps into Associated Press and Fox News telephone and email correspondences – to find out the source of supposed information leaks, and a federal Environmental Protection Agency that wants to rewrite Clean Water Act rules that clamp down on private property rights even further, with or without congressional permission. That’s just a drop in the bucket of executive overreach – of an ‘overgrown executive’ branch Madison feared.
“Now add in a nationwide shift in police departments so that officers dress like soldiers, train like soldiers and use gear like soldiers. The Pentagon’s 1033 program alone has awarded more than $4.3 billion of cast-off Department of Defense equipment to police stations around the nation since 1997 – and nearly half a billion in 2013 alone. Granted, some of that equipment is of the office-supply type. But the rest is armored vehicles, tactical weaponry, night vision goggles, body armor and Kevlar and the like,” she wrote. “Now send those officers into the streets, and by all appearance, they look like soldiers – full-time law enforcement agents who serve as a ‘standing military,’ just like Madison warned”
At a recent appearance with the Mississippi GOP, Paul said, “We’re giving out mine-resistant, ambush-protection vehicles, 20-ton vehicles. Dundee, Michigan, a town of 3,000, has a 20-ton mine-resistant, ambush-protection vehicle. That’s ridiculous. … Try to explain to me when terrorists are going to attack Dundee, Michigan, or Fargo, North Dakota.”
Read more at WND