Tennessee police may need to settle for basic law enforcement gear if a new bill goes into effect. Senator Brian Kelsey has introduced a counter to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which would effectively ban the use of military equipment for local law enforcement.
This could be the start of a new trend if the bill is signed in and proves effective. The results of military gear such as mine-resistant vehicles, aircraft such as drones, and heavy weaponry have shown other parts of the United States to be more accepting of what some have termed a “police state.”
The bill in question is worded simply.
“No law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for law enforcement purposes.”
Such items included in the ban would include machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and anti-tank weapons. The bill specifically bans certain weapons from use by Tennessee police, including magazine-fed, gas-operated, and air-cooled rifles, or carbines.
Bill would ban police from using military gear in Tennessee. http://t.co/HLhl7U3VyL
— Niels Hoven (@NielsHoven) January 20, 2015
The ACLU has criticized the use of these items after they had been allegedly used in SWAT raids to simply deliver arrest warrants for drug crimes, and often innocent people were hurt in the process.
Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin commented on the use of military gear in local police activity.
“They’ve turned ‘protect and serve’ into ‘command and control.'”
The use of said gear rose after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, when a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man and the community responded with increasingly violent protests. Similar riots occurred across the United States, spurring more and more police departments to request military level weapons, vehicles, and equipment to deal with rioters.
Sadly, some of those using the equipment have done so in situations that allegedly didn’t require it, and allegedly harmed the public view of the system.
The bill in question, SB0039, was filed on January 14. Senator Kelsey added his view on the bill he introduced.
“I think we can support both our police officers and our citizens by ensuring that our police officers are not viewed as the enemy.”
Do you think Tennessee police will be hurt by this potential new ban on military gear, or will it improve public and police relations?
[Image via Rally Point]