FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 28, 2017

Contact: Madhu Grewal, Senior Counsel
 
TCP Alarmed by Trump Administration Lifting Critical Limits on Police Militarization


WASHINGTON, D.C. --  The Constitution Project (TCP) is dismayed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement today that the Trump administration is removing important limits and oversight of programs allowing police to obtain military equipment from the federal government.
 
The Obama administration placed limits on the ability of police to get certain military equipment-such as bayonets, grenade launchers, and weaponized and armored vehicles-from federal programs like the Department of Defense 1033 program. However, President Obama did not, as Attorney General Sessions characterized today, restrict the ability of police to obtain "life saving gear like Kevlar vests and helmets... like what they're using in Texas right now."
 
Madhuri Grewal, Senior Counsel, stated:
 
Those concerned with greater transparency and accountability in our government should be deeply troubled by today's announcement. Just last month, the Government Accountability Office created a fake law enforcement agency and was able to obtain $1.2 million worth of military gear from our federal government. Now, this administration is making it even easier to obtain military equipment from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
 
Over the last few years, high-profile encounters-many deadly-between law enforcement and community members renewed important public discussions around the troubling trend of police militarization and tactics in our country. Reforming programs that allow police to acquire military equipment is both a practical and constitutional imperative. Rather than expanding their arsenals, law enforcement agencies nationwide should be emphasizing building trust with the communities they serve.
 
Last year, TCP's Committee on Policing Reforms -- a bipartisan group that includes former law enforcement and military officers-issued a report that highlighted seriousness of the constitutional and policy concerns raised by law enforcement's use of military equipment and tactics. The report calls for necessary limitations on the federal programs providing tactical military equipment to states and requiring law enforcement agencies demonstrate military equipment would be used only in limited and narrowly-tailored circumstances. 
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About The Constitution Project ®

Created out of the belief that we must cast aside the labels that divide us in order to keep our democracy strong, The Constitution Project brings together policy experts and legal practitioners from across the political spectrum to foster consensus-based solutions to the most difficult constitutional challenges of our time through scholarship, advocacy, policy reform and public education initiatives. Established in 1997, TCP is based in Washington, D.C.