Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), criticized the program that allows local police to receive military-grade weapons from the Defense Department during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Paul, a forceful critic of militarized policing, insisted on knowing why nearly 12,000 bayonets had been given to local law enforcement, but came up empty.
Sen. Paul publicly denounced the militarization of police as a response to the events in Ferguson, Missouri where police were seen outfitted as if entering a war zone. Senator Paul spoke before a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security Committee at a hearing on Tuesday to ask questions about the type of equipment that local police are attaining from the Department of Defense.
Among the items the Pentagon has provided to police are more than 600 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles.
The Assistant Administrator of FEMA for Grant Programs, Brian Kamoie, responded to Sen. Paul that the categories of personal protective equipment for police officers contain a prohibition for the use of riot suppression.
Kamoie was unable to answer how many times equipment purchased with the funds was used to combat terrorism, providing just two examples, the apprehension of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2013 and the 2010 scuttling of a plot to bomb New York City’s Times Square. Kamoie promised to investigate the incidents in Missouri to determine whether there was a misuse of equipment against civilians.
Paul appeared angry about the use of MRAP trucks in towns as small as 3,900 people. The Kentucky senator put the FEMA representative and the Obama administration on blast for handing out thousands of bayonets to local police. “What purpose are bayonets being given out for?”
“I can’t answer what a local police force would use a bayonet for,” Alan Estevez said. “We’re going to look at what we’re providing under the administration’s review of all these programs.”
Due to the bipartisan nature of the hearings, and the public outcry against it, the Pentagon is now reviewing the program that gives away military equipment to local police forces for free.
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