The powers that be on Capitol Hill are starting to wake up to the dangers of militarized police forces across the country, and the author of “Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming Our Reality,” says it’s about time.
“The fact that Republicans and Democrats seem equally outraged at the growing threat from military-outfitted police riding armored vehicles through the streets of America’s communities is heartening,” said Cheryl Chumley, in a commentary on the issue on Tuesday.
“Nonpartisanship is a good thing, in this case, because it means the congressional talk may not be simply political talk. Action and reform could result,” she wrote.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., also said the move was “long overdue.”
A hearing titled “Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement” was held before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Key senators noted the discord between the traditional role of law enforcement and what it has become in places such as Ferguson, Missouri.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who organized the hearing, expressed her “shock and sadness” over what transpired in Ferguson between the authorities and protesters. She hoped that the hearing, and others to come, would lead to better public policy that protects civil rights.
She found it “ironic” that while in Iraq, U.S. armed forces worked tirelessly to win the hearts and minds of the locals, but domestic police had become more militarized. The hearings revealed that views on a solution varied widely.
Alan Estevez, deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, believes that the 1033 program, through which military equipment is delivered to local police departments, had accomplished good things during its existence.
He noted just 4 percent of equipment given by the 1033 is “controlled.” Controlled status is reserved for the more notorious 1033 equipment.
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