Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants President Trump to reconsider his decision to sign an executive order reversing an Obama-era policy which put limits on the transfer of surplus military equipment to local police forces.
In an op-ed published Monday in the New York Post, Paul called the president’s latest move “a mistake” because he thinks that the line between local law enforcement officers and soldiers is “eroding.”
“To support our local police, we must first realize they aren’t soldiers. But today, the line between the two is being eroded,” he wrote.
“Given these developments, it’s natural for many Americans — especially minorities, given the racial disparities in policing — to feel like their government is targeting them. Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice isn’t paying close enough attention,” Paul stated.
In the piece, he announced plans to introduce a measure when Congress returns from its recess that would again stop the transfer of military equipment from the federal government to state and local law enforcement agencies. His ban would only apply to offensive equipment and would allow the federal government to give defensive equipment, like body armor, to local and state law enforcement agencies.
“Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an elusive and dangerous — or false — security,” wrote Paul. “The militarization of our law enforcement is just another symptom of an overall problem that stems from an unprecedented expansion of government power — where we are repeatedly asked to make such ‘liberty for what we tell you is security’ tradeoffs.”
Paul points out that if Americans “sacrifice the very nature of the institutions we have set up to enforce the law, what kind of law will we end up enforcing?”
He also notes that if the federal government is willing and able to give such surplus military equipment to local police departments, this denotes a massive overreach of power and erodes trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they’re charged with policing.
The executive order Trump signed on Monday lifted limits imposed by former President Barack Obama after police in Ferguson, Mo., used military-style equipment to confront protesters in 2014.
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