Wyden Joins Other Senators’ Call to Demilitarize Police

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is joining forces with nine other senators asking President Joe Biden to step up efforts to demilitarize the police, according to a press release issued by his office on Wednesday.  

In a letter addressed to the president, the senators cite reports showing that militarized law enforcement neither reduces rates of violent crime nor the number of officers assaulted or killed.  

“Instead, arming police departments with military equipment has led to an increase in officer-involved shootings and civilian deaths,” they wrote. “We urge you to prioritize the demilitarization of law enforcement by limiting the transfer or purchase of certain military equipment for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local law enforcement agencies.” 

The letter continues, “This should include reforms to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) program to transfer surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies—known as the ‘1033 program’—as well as DoD’s program to allow law enforcement agencies to purchase military equipment—known as the ‘1122 program.’ Militarized law enforcement increases the prevalence of police violence without making our communities safer. Now is the moment to make these necessary reforms.”  

Other police reforms referenced in the letter include prohibiting the use of transferred or purchased military equipment against First Amendment-protected activities, such as the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Recipients of such equipment would also be required to provide a description of how the equipment will be used.  

By: Jennifer Williams