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1033 Program Barack Obama CURRENT EVENTS Donald Trump federal funding Federal Programs Intelwars Joe Biden militarization Police

Biden Plan to Revive Obama Limits on Police Militarization Still Just Window Dressing

According to a CNN report, President Joe Biden plans to reinstate Obama-era limits on a federal police militarization program.  While this sounds like progress toward ending the militarization of local police departments, the Obama limits were little more than window-dressing.

Through the federal grant programs such as the 1033 program, local police departments procure military-grade weapons. Police can also get military equipment through the Department of Homeland Security via the (DHS) “Homeland Security Grant Program.”

The DHS doles out over $1 billion in counterterrorism funds to state and local police each year. 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.”

In the wake of the Ferguson protests, Pres. Obama signed an executive order limiting some types of surplus military equipment available through federal programs or funding. A prohibited equipment list developed based on the Obama EO included tracked armored vehicles; weaponized aircraft, vessels, and vehicles of any kind with weapons installed; firearms of .50-caliber or higher; ammunition of .50-caliber or higher; grenade launchers; bayonets; and camouflage uniforms. It also placed limits on other equipment, including aircraft, wheeled tactical vehicles, mobile command units, battering rams, and riot gear. Local agencies were required to develop a use plan and get federal approval before they could obtain these items.

The Obama executive order was largely window dressing and left the 1033 program effectively intact. Most of the items on the prohibited list had been previously banned or were rarely transferred through federal surplus programs. Even with the Obama limits, police continued to have access to military surplus equipment, including high powered “assault” rifles, mine-resistant vehicles (MRAPs) and armored Humvees, aircraft, drones, night vision equipment, battering rams, and other military-grade items.

In practice, the Obama EO did little to stem the flow of military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. It was largely symbolic. In fact, the banned list was clearly intended to serve as a psychological bandaid. It made the public feel better about police militarization without actually changing the militarization policy in any substantive way. Obama even said he wanted to remove some of the intimidation factor inherent in militarized police forces.

In August 2017, President Donald Trump pulled the Obama bandaid off with an executive order reversing Obama’s EO, reopening the door for police departments to obtain items the Obama administration had banned.

Apparently, Biden wants to slap the bandaid back on and put the Obama-era window dressing back in place.

Congress took a small step toward limiting militarization in the 2020 Defense Authorization Act. A provision in that law bans grenades, bayonets, weaponized combat vehicles and weaponized drones from being transferred from the military to local police departments. But as was the case when Obama signed the original EO, this limited congressional tinkering and Biden’s orders won’t change much. The 1033 program will remain essentially intact. Military gear will continue to flow into local police agencies, just as it did when Obama was in the White House.

Even if you see the Obama/Biden limits as a positive, the multiple federal flip-flops underscore the importance of putting limits on police militarization at the state and local level. Federal policy tends to change depending on the party in power. Whatever limits Biden imposes through executive order can be undone with a stroke of the next president’s pen. The only way to effectively end police militarization for good is permanently withdrawing the state from these federal programs.

Arming ‘peace officers’ like they’re ready to occupy an enemy city is totally contrary to the society envisioned by the founders. 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 taking action at the state and local level, making it more difficult for local police to get this military-grade gear and surveillance technology, and ensuring they can’t do it in secret, it makes them less likely to cooperate with the feds and removes incentives for partnerships.

The post Biden Plan to Revive Obama Limits on Police Militarization Still Just Window Dressing first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Report: Local Law Enforcement Receiving Billions in Weapons From Pentagon

“They will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”
– George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

Barney Fife carried one bullet in his pocket. Back at the jailhouse, he and Sheriff Andy Taylor had one rifle each.

Today, a small-town police department such as that in Mayberry would likely own an armored personnel vehicle and military-grade weapons that would compare to any arsenal at any Army post.

A new report published by Open the Books reveals the shocking proliferation in local law-enforcement departments of combat materiel produced for use by the U.S. military.

As reported in Forbes:

Local law enforcement agencies have since 1993 received billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment including mine resistant vehicles, armored trucks, helicopters, M16’s and M14’s, infrared goggles, grenade launchers, and airplanes. The gear transfers are part of the Pentagon authorization known as Program 1033.

Surprisingly, California’s police departments — a state with some of the strictest gun laws — procured the most military weaponry from the Pentagon.

California ($153.1 million) edged out Texas ($144 million), Tennessee ($133.7 million), Florida ($105.6 million), Arizona ($93.9 million), Alabama ($88.7 million), and South Carolina ($76.3 million) in the receipt of military surplus equipment.

You may look at that list and imagine that Los Angeles and Miami and Houston probably could make use of military weapons, vehicles, and clothing.

Would you feel the same about small-town police departments getting gear made for the battlefield? Consider this from the Open the Books report:

Even thinly populated counties in California procured mine resistant vehicles. For example, Amador County (pop. 38,000) in the Sierra Nevada mountains received two ($1.3 million value).

In Texas, the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District police received 60 bayonets-knives ($4,236 value) and Granite Sholas police procured ten more. Please explain the policing purpose of a bayonet — in a school district? Our request for comment was ignored.

In Wyoming, the Campbell County sheriff’s Office (pop. 46,341) received $1.5 million in gear including two mine-resistant vehicles, an armored truck, and 17 M14 rifles.

In 2016, citizen outrage helped shut down a local police department in Illinois after our oversight reporting at Forbes revealed that the police in London Mills (pop. 381) acquired $201,445 in military equipment including rifles, generators, trucks, and Humvees.

Bayonettes for school resource officers?

Humvees for police in a town with a population below 400?

Mine-resistant vehicles in the small towns of the mountains of California?

Is there a need for such things, or is the supply creating the demand?

In an interview conducted for an earlier article on this subject, Jim Fitzgerald of the John Birch Society said there is “virtually no use” for the military-grade equipment being obtained by local law enforcement.

“The only reason to have this equipment is to use it,” Fitzgerald said.

From the arsenal to the attitude, Fitzgerald’s statement seems prophetic as police are acting less like public servants and more like special forces.

In an essay published in the Wall Street Journal last August, Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, presented chilling and convincing evidence of the blurring of the line between cop and soldier:

Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment — from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers — American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.

Everyone has heard of stories of police storming a house wearing masks covering their faces, dressed in military special forces-style black uniforms and battle helmets. They bust down the door using a battering ram, then rush the occupants, seizing and breaking one camera and preventing another from recording the remarkable scene.

What was the heinous and violent crime for which the intended target of the raid was charged? Murder? Rape?

Credit-card fraud.

Again, sounds like Jim Fitzgerald was right on target with his “if they have it, they’ll use it” prediction.

And, the Open the Books report reveals that more and more local law-enforcement agencies are happily taking the Pentagon’s hand-me-downs.

Regarding the armored vehicles such as the one in the example above, police have taken possession of 284 such vehicles worth over $24 million under the Pentagon’s 1033 program.

There is something unseemly about this stockpile of tools and technology being gifted to police departments. Consider this highlight from the Open the Books report: “Transfers included night-vision sights, sniper scopes, binoculars, telescopes, and goggles (131,358 items, $42 million value); mine detecting sets, marking kits, and probes (230 items, $599,341 million value).”

Many of you may be thinking that while there are some such examples of unnecessary use, there’s no real harm in giving police the Pentagon’s weapons.

Echoing General George Washington’s warning in his Farewell Address, Radley Balko connects the menace of the martial police with the decline in liberty and a disintegration of legal boundaries between sheriffs and generals:

Americans have long been wary of using the military for domestic policing. Concerns about potential abuse date back to the creation of the Constitution, when the founders worried about standing armies and the intimidation of the people at large by an overzealous executive, who might choose to follow the unhappy precedents set by Europe’s emperors and monarchs.

Washington and Balko are but two of the men who’ve raised the warning voice regarding the danger from a more militarized society.

During the Virginia ratifying convention, James Madison described a standing army as the “greatest mischief that can happen.” His colleague and fellow delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, George Mason, put a finer point on it:

No man has a greater regard for the military gentlemen than I have. I admire their intrepidity, perseverance, and valor. But when once a standing army is established in any country, the people lose their liberty. When, against a regular and disciplined army, yeomanry are the only defence [sic], — yeomanry, unskilful and unarmed, — what chance is there for preserving freedom? Give me leave to recur to the page of history, to warn you of your present danger. Recollect the history of most nations of the world. What havoc, desolation, and destruction, have been perpetrated by standing armies!

In commenting on William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, founding era jurist St. George Tucker speaks as if he foresaw our day and the fatal combination of an increasingly militarized police force and the disarmament of civilians.

“Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction,” Tucker warned.

Finally, there is nothing in the Constitution authorizing the federal government to dole out the billions of dollars in war weapons and machines that are behind the militarization of the police.

The solution, then, to the military tactics, training, tools, and technology being deployed by local law enforcement could be the application of the 10th Amendment.

The 10th Amendment mandates that if the power isn’t granted to the federal government in the Constitution, then authority over that area remains with the states and the people.

Naturally, the bureaucrats in charge of keeping the cash flowing from the Department of Defense to police and sheriffs want to keep the spigot open.

This transfer of technology and materiel will separate the police from the people they serve and make them dependent on their would-be bosses in Washington, D.C.

Police, unless the people stand up and interpose, will become nothing less than federal security agents sworn not to protect and to serve their neighbors, but to protect the prerogatives of politicians.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published at The New American Magazine and reposted here with permission from the author.

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A New “Surge” Expands Unconstitutional Federal Involvement in Local Police

WASHINGTON (Nov. 2, 2019) – Invoking military language used during the Iraq war, President Trump announced a national police “surge” to crack down on violent crime.

Trump announced the crime-fighting initiative during the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.

“In coming weeks, Attorney General Barr will announce a new crackdown on violent crime – which I think is so important – targeting gangs and drug traffickers in high crime cities and dangerous rural areas.”

“Let’s call it the surge,” Trump said, dusting off the term used when escalating troop deployments and initiating offensive actions during the Iraq war.

Trump did not offer details about the plan, but he promised it would be “very dramatic.”

The federal government does not have any constitutional authority to engage in local crime-fighting. During the ratification debates, numerous supporters of the Constitution insisted that police powers would remain exclusively with state and local governments.

But over the years, the feds have intertwined themselves more and more tightly with state and local law enforcement. In effect, today the U.S. government effectively directs a national police force with policies and priorities dictated by Washington D.C. State and local police operate at the behest of federal authorities, motivated by funds and equipment showered upon them by their Washington benefactors.

During his speech to police chiefs, Trump bragged about increasing the federal government’s unconstitutional police militarization scheme.

“To help keep you safe, I’ve made $600 million-worth of surplus military equipment available to local law enforcement. If you remember, the previous administration didn’t want to do that… They didn’t want to make you look so tough. They didn’t want to make you look like you’re a threat.”

Trump was referring to a 2017 executive order that gave a push to local police militarization. Trump’s action rescinded an Obama-era policy meant to provide greater transparency and oversight around the Department of Defense 1033 program and other federal resources that provide military weapons to local police.

The federal government has aggressively worked to arm local police through 1033 and other federal programs for years. Through these initiatives, local police departments procure military-grade weapons. Police can also get military equipment through the Department of Homeland Security via the (DHS) “Homeland Security Grant Program.” In 2013, DHS 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.”

COMMAND AND CONTROL

Proponents of police militarization always talk about protecting police officers and the danger of terrorism. But the main function of local police militarization revolves around the unconstitutional “war on drugs.” After all, wars require soldiers, and the federal government doesn’t have the manpower to fight alone. The feds need state and local police to serve as foot-soldiers in their drug war. Militarization, combined with asset forfeiture cash, incentivizes the necessary cooperation.

In fact, a survey of applications made to federal programs by state and local law enforcement agencies revealed the drug war was by far the most common reason given for needing to militarize police officers.

Over the last two decades, police militarization has fundamentally changed policing.

Trump appears intent on continuing the evolution of local police into a domestic military force. This might throw red meat and “conservative” law and order types, but arming ‘peace officers’ like they’re ready to occupy an enemy city is totally contrary to the society envisioned by the founders. 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.”

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