Should Local Law Enforcement Be Militarized? Tennessee Lawmaker Says, ‘NO’

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Should law enforcement use military vehicles and equipment with the public? One Tennessee State Senator says, ‘NO’.

Jumping head first into the national discussion on the appropriateness of law enforcement methods and tactics, Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, a Germantown, TN Republican seeks to prevent TN law enforcement agencies from using military equipment in their role with the general public.

Post 1 (b) boston_policeThe bill, introduced last month in the Tennessee State Senate, partially reads: “No law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for any law enforcement purposes.”

The bill criminalizes both the use of and the possession of such equipment. “Drafting and filing this bill is the beginning of that conversation. I’m certainly open to any suggestions they have on the issue” said Kelsey.

Surplus military equipment has long been offered and sold to law enforcement through a variety of federal programs. For example, armor plated Hummers, used in crossing difficult terrain and also used in potentially dangerous situations like standoffs or other hostile situations that could easily turn deadly for law enforcement would be outlawed if Kelsey’s bill passes.

Kelsey is the Chairman of the TN Senate Judiciary Committee. He practices civil litigation and probate law and holds a law degree from Georgetown University according to his website,
SWAT Robot

A bill introduced in the Montana legislature would prohibit state and local officials from owning or using certain military equipment, whether provided through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program or other grants, and would also indirectly thwart federal efforts to enforce unconstitutional laws.

Representative Schwaderer introduced HB330 on Jan 28. The bill would place limits on the types of military equipment a local or state police department can purchase, audit the current inventory, and require oversight of allowed military grade equipment

The legislation prohibits state or local law enforcement agencies from obtaining automatic weapons “not generally recognized as suitable for law enforcement purposes,” armored or weaponized drones, combat aircraft, grenades or other explosives (including flash-bangs), silencers, long-range acoustic devices, and tanks or tank-like vehicles.

The bill requires that when a law enforcement agency obtains allowable surplus military equipment under the law, it must provide a certification that it has the personnel and technical capacity, including training to operate the property, an explanation of how the it expects to use the property, and certify that if it determines that the property is no longer needed, it will return the property to the department of defense or otherwise decommission the property. Law enforcement agencies must also notify the community and the state department of justice if it requests military grade equipment from the federal government.

As we saw in Ferguson, Mo. last year, local police have turned into militarized forces with little respect for the people they were meant to serve. And Ferguson was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.



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