The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Ferguson fallout: Lawmaker urges tighter controls on military giveaways to local police

  • Print

WASHINGTON - A Democratic congressman plans to introduce a bill to restrict a Defence Department program that provides machine-guns and other surplus military equipment for free to local law enforcement agencies across the country.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said Thursday that the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb highlights the need for the legislation, which has been in the works for months. The bill comes as members of Congress have called for the Justice Department to investigate the shooting of a black teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Police in riot gear and military garb have clashed nightly with protesters since Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown and at times have trained weapons on them from armoured trucks.

A spokesman for the Defence Logistics Agency, the government's combat logistics support agency, said the Ferguson Police Department has been part of the surplus equipment program. It received two tactical vehicles — both Humvees — as well as a generator and a trailer and may have received other equipment, DLA spokesman Joe Yoswa said.

Johnson said city streets should be a place for businesses and families, "not tanks and M16s." He said a Pentagon program that transfers surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement has led to police agencies resembling paramilitary forces.

"Militarizing America's main streets won't make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent," Johnson said Thursday. He said his bill would limit the type of military equipment that can be transferred to law enforcement, and require states to certify they can account for all equipment received.

The bill, to be introduced in September, targets a 24-year-old military surplus program that transfers equipment from blankets to bayonets and tanks to police and sheriff's departments across the country. An Associated Press investigation last year of the Defence Department program found that a large share of the $4.2 billion in surplus military gear distributed since 1990 went to police and sheriff's departments in rural areas with few officers and little crime.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to comment on Johnson's proposal.

In response to the shooting, Boehner said in a statement that his thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Michael Brown, the teenager who was killed Saturday.

"I strongly support a full and thorough investigation of the events surrounding his death, and subsequent actions, including the detention of journalists covering this heartbreaking situation," Boehner said.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your Vote: The Blue Bombers All-Time Team

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.
  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government be able to censor how Ottawa is portrayed in the CMHR?

View Results

Ads by Google