DPJC Position Statement

DPJC Statement on Demilitarizing Local Law Enforcement

640px Nebraska Army National Guard in Omaha during the George Floyd protests June 2 2020A protester walks past Nebraska Military Police in Omaha on June 2, 2020
Photo by Sgt. Lisa Crawford

(7/1, Dallas, TX) The Dallas Peace and Justice Center (DPJC) applauds efforts by lawmakers in Washington to restrict the transfer of military grade weapons to law enforcement under federal program 1033 that allows the Defense Department to provide surplus equipment- at no cost- to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Leading the effort is Congressman Ruben Gallejo, (D-AZ) who has stated that, “Local law enforcement officers shouldn’t be confronting civilians with weapons designed for combat. A militarized police force makes our communities less safe and heightens the growing divide between police officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect." On the Senate side, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) has reintroduced the bipartisan 'Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act" to establish limitations and create greater transparency to offensive military weapons transfers. According to Sen. Schatz, "weapons of war do not belong in our local police department and should never be used against American people."

According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation the Pentagon has transferred, "$6 billion in equipment since the program’s creation in 1991, when transfers were designated for counter drug activities. A reported 79,288 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers,11,959 bayonets, armored personnel carriers, and mine resistant vehicles (MRAPS) have been handed over to law enforcement agencies across the nation.".

Militarization has permeated law enforcement and has given rise to a warrior cop mentatilty.

Studies have shown that the use of this military gear leads to more police violence and outsized targeting of communities of color. Now, as bipartisan calls for broad police reform grow louder, some members of congress are calling for legislation to restrict or eliminate the program altogether.

Roger Arnold, co-chair of the Human Rights Committee of the DPJC said, "we urge Dallas Police Department, and all law enforcement agencies in Dallas County to refuse weapons transfers under the 1033 program and invest the savings in underserved communities. We also urge the N. Texas Congressional delegation to support legislation proposed by Rep. Gallejo and Sen. Schatz to end the militarization of law enforcement."