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Paul Opposes New Trump Order, Warns Against Police 'Militarization'

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to supporters gathered at The Champions of Liberty Rally in Hebron, Ky., Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.

Sen. Rand Paul is speaking out against President Donald Trump’s anticipated executive order rolling back Obama-era limits on sending surplus military weapons and other equipment to state and local police departments.

Paul took to Twitter Monday with a promises to fight the administration’s move to resume the transfer of military grade equipment to police, saying the “militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm.” The Bowling Green senator framed the issue in familiar terms, urging Americans not to sacrifice their liberty for an “illusive and dangerous, or false, security.”

The series of tweets puts him at odds with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued at the Fraternal Order of Police Convention in Nashville the gear is needed to protect law enforcement officers and send a strong message to criminals. The initiative was introduced more than two decades ago, but was trimmed back under President Barack Obama in the wake of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Although the surplus sharing program changes come through an executive order, Paul capped off his series of tweets with a promise to bring the issue of funding for the order to the Senate floor.

Paul is pressing for legislation that would:

  • Prohibit the federal transfer of militarized equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, drones and armored vehicles transferred through the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033, U.S. Department of Justice’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Grant programs. (This prohibition only applies to offensive equipment and does not prohibit the transfer of defensive equipment, such as body armor.)
  •  Help increase the transparency and accountability of these programs by requiring the Defense Logistics Agency to create a website that displays all of the property transferred under the 1033 program, as well as the state and local agencies who have received the equipment.
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to analyze the use of military-style training and equipment by all federal agencies, including the usefulness and justification for the use of such equipment.
  • Mandate the return of all equipment currently being used by law enforcement agencies that is prohibited under this legislation.
  • Require each agency that receives equipment to have 100 percent accountability of the property they receive and requires a programmatic review of how federal agencies with SWAT or other tactical response teams use the equipment.
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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