March 15, 2019
The undersigned criminal justice, human rights, faith-based, and government accountability organizations write in support of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act H.R.1714. We urge you to cosponsor
this important bipartisan legislation that would reform the 1033 program.
The 1033 program enables the Department of Defense (DOD) to transfer surplus military equipment to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement. Since 1991, the Pentagon has transferred $6 billion in equipment. Various law enforcement agencies, including those charged with immigration enforcement and school policing, are eligible for weapons transfers. The 1033 program has supplied Department of Homeland Security agencies on the southern border with military equipment. School districts across the country have also been policed with military weapons under the 1033 program. These weapons of war do not belong in our neighborhoods. Rather than improving safety, the militarization of police forces terrorizes communities—particularly lower-income populations and people of color—and increases the risk of excessive force. The impact has been to divide communities and foster deeper mistrust and frustration, as well as stymie civic engagement when protestors are met with a militarized response.
Mismanagement has plagued the 1033 program over the last ten years. Military grade weapons have been sent with little or no accountability to local communities. Reports of missing equipment and inappropriate transfers prompted a moratorium on the program from May 2012 through October 2013. Missing weapons and a failure to comply with guidelines also led to the suspension of three entire states and 146 individual law enforcement agencies from the 1033 program by 2014. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) created a fake law enforcement agency and was able to obtain $1.2 million worth of military gear through the 1033 program. GAO also issued a report on the 1033 program and recommended increased oversight and regulation of the program.
The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act H.R.1714 would:
- Prohibit the transfer of military weapons and equipment that are unnecessary and inappropriate for local policing. Prohibited items would include grenades, mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), armored or weaponized drones, combat configured aircraft, silencers, and long range acoustic devises (LRADs). This bill would also prohibit the future transfer of items that are currently banned from the 1033 program.
- Eliminate incentives for the inappropriate use of military weapons and equipment. Law enforcement agencies would be required to have training and community approval before participating in the 1033 program. Law enforcement agencies would also have to indicate how they plan to use 1033 property.
- Require oversight and transparency of the 1033 program. Annual reporting from the Department of Defense to Congress would be required. All controlled equipment transferred must be accounted for and DOD must make details of 1033 transfers publicly available.
The 1033 program needs reform. We urge you to co-sponsor the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
Alliance of Baptists
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Friends Service Committee
Amnesty International USA
Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic) Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Drug Policy Alliance Defending Rights & Dissent Ecumenical Poverty Initiative Franciscan Action Network Government Information Watch Human Rights Watch
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice Muslim Public Affairs Council NAACP
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Immigration Project
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Open the Government
Pax Christi USA
South East Asian Faith Initiatives
The American Humanist Association
The Friends Committee on National Legislation
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Win Without War