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Police militarization


In the 1980s, our nation’s police departments had a total of 3,000 Special Weapons and Tactics Teams. Today, there are 50,000 of these elite units. Police administrators now regard SWAT teams as money-makers rather than costly budget-breakers as they did before they began receiving free equipment from our Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD’s 1033 and 1122 programs provide a substantial amount of funding and military equipment, as well as arms, tactical vehicles and training to local law enforcement agencies (LEA). This military equipment is often used for local drug busts. More than 8,000 law enforcement agencies have participated in this program, include many college and university police departments. In the past ten years, our DOD has transferred at least 490,000 pieces of military equipment worth $1.7 billion to LEAs across the country. This equipment includes high-powered weapons, silencers, weaponized drones and long-range acoustic devices.

Our Pentagon states this program is intended to help police combat terrorists and drug cartels. Critics disagree and say much of the time, SWAT teams are used against non-violent consensual drug offenders. They are also concerned some police departments are using military equipment and tactics for routine duties such as crowd control at peaceful public demonstrations. Critics claim the mind-set of a peace officer must be very different than one of a soldier, and that our police militarization policy has blurred this distinction.

Pending Legislation: H.R.1694 - Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act
Sponsor: Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA)
Status: House Committee on Armed Services
Chair: Rep. Adam Smith (WA)












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Poll Opening Date
October 11, 2021
Poll Closing Date
October 17, 2021


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