WAND supports Escobar-Khanna effort to limit weapons transfers between Pentagon and law enforcement

WAND joined 88 organizations in supporting the efforts of Representatives Veronica Escobar and Ro Khanna to limit military weapons transfers to law enforcement agencies across the country. Polls have found strong bipartisan support for ending the 1033 program, which facilitates transfers between the Pentagon and police departments.


From the letter: “Numerous research studies have indicated that not only is the 1033 Program ineffective, as it fails to reduce crime or improve police safety, but it is also unsafe, and associated with more civilian deaths. Military equipment is disproportionately deployed in communities of color. As recognized by former President Obama, decades of police militarization has led to LEAs appearing more like an occupying military force than comm

unity members working to protect and serve their neighbors.”

 

August 31, 2021



Dear Members of the House Armed Services Committee,



The undersigned organizations from across the political spectrum urge you to support the amendment offered by Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to rein in the Pentagon’s military surplus equipment transfer program, known as the 1033 Program. This amendment would end the indiscriminate transfers of military-grade weapons from the Pentagon to federal, state, and local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). The proposed language has passed three times in the House, twice through the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and once in the Defense Appropriations bill.


Since its inception in the 1990s in response to the “War on Drugs,” the 1033 Program has resulted in the transfer of more than $7.4 billion in equipment to more than 8,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies across the country. Items received through the 1033 Program include armored vehicles, rifles, and aircraft.


Numerous research studies have indicated that not only is the 1033 Program ineffective, as it fails to reduce crime or improve police safety, but it is also unsafe, and associated with more civilian deaths. Military equipment is disproportionately deployed in communities of color. As recognized by former President Obama, decades of police militarization has led to LEAs appearing more like an occupying military force than community members working to protect and serve their neighbors.


In recent years, the 1033 Program has expanded as part of the militarization of our southern border as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have also received enormous amounts of excess military equipment.


In June 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, Data for Progress polled voters regarding their opinions about police, police violence, and proposed reforms. This poll found that there is strong bipartisan support for banning the transfer of military equipment to civilian police. Overall, Republican and Democratic voters support ending the transfer of military equipment and weapons to law enforcement by a margin of 18 percentage points.


On April 6, 2021, twenty-nine Members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to issue an Executive Order on the 1033 Program consistent with the legislative language of this amendment, calling it “a reasonable step towards demilitarizing our police forces while preserving the safety of our communities.” A month later, more than 150 national organizations, from across the political spectrum, representing tens of millions of their members, wrote to Members of Congress in support of ending the Pentagon’s 1033 Program all together.


This commonsense amendment which has bipartisan support in Congress, would make our communities safer by getting weapons of war and military equipment off of our streets and out of our communities.


Accordingly, we urge you to use the opportunity of the full committee markup of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act to vote in favor of this amendment. Thank you for your consideration.