Demilitarization of Police Act

Summary: The Demilitarization of Police Act requires law enforcement agencies to disclose and justify the need and cost of any military equipment they own (e.g. machine guns, armored vehicles, night-vision scopes, camouflage fatigues and flash-bang grenades). Law enforcement agencies must provide the [legislature/council/commission] at least 90 days notice before any future acquisition of military equipment.

Based on New Jersey SB 2364 and SB 2365 (2014)

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Demilitarization of Police Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(A) FINDINGS

1. More than 8,000 local police forces, including more than 100 college police agencies, have received over $5 billion in military equipment from the federal government under the “1033 Program.”

2. The militarization of policing has become commonplace in towns across America. Local police routinely have automatic weapons and heavily armored military vehicles. They have camouflage combat fatigues, flash-bang grenades and night-vision rifle scopes.

3. The militarization of police is problematic for three reasons. First, as in Ferguson, Missouri, the use of such equipment can drive a wedge between the police and the citizenry. Second, it is not clear why much of this equipment is needed or whether officers are fully trained to use it properly. Third, even if the equipment was originally obtained for free, the costs for storage, maintenance, and personnel associated with this equipment seems to be a poor use of scarce taxpayer dollars.

(B) PURPOSE—This Act is designed to improve relations between law enforcement and the citizens of our [state/city/count], make citizens safer, and save taxpayer dollars.

SECTION 3. DEMILITARIZATION OF POLICE

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) FUTURE ACQUISITION OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT—If any law enforcement agency within [the state/city/county] seeks to acquire (1) any property through a United States Department of Defense program pursuant to 10 U.S.C. s.2576a, or (2) any weapon that is defined as a “firearm” under 26 U.S.C. Sec. 5845, the agency shall first provide at least 90 days written notice to the [governing body] to allow it the option to disapprove that acquisition.

ALTERNATIVELY, “that acquisition shall first be approved by a resolution adopted by a majority of the full membership of the [governing body of a local unit].”

[NOTE: 26 USC 5845 is within the National Firearms Act and this definition does not apply to normal police guns like rifles and pistols. This definition covers machine guns, short-barreled guns, silencers, bombs, grenades and missiles.]

(B) REVIEW OF EXISTING MILITARY EQUIPMENT—On or before [date], each law enforcement agency shall create an inventory of (1) any property that the agency has acquired through a United States Department of Defense program pursuant to 10 U.S.C. s.2576a and still possesses, or (2) any weapon that is defined as a “firearm” under 26 U.S.C. Sec. 5845 that the agency possesses. For each item in the inventory, the agency shall describe (1) the demonstrated need for the agency to possess that property; (2) the training that is provided for officers to use that property; and (3) the annual storage and maintenance costs of keeping that property.

SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE

This law shall become effective on July 1, 20XX.


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