Smith Statement on Trump Expansion of Program Giving Surplus Military Equipment to Law Enforcement Agencies

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about President Trump’s announced expansion of surplus military equipment transfers to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies under the 1033 program:

“This is a dangerous decision. After a careful interagency review, the Obama administration halted the provision of surplus armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, large-caliber weapons, ammunition, and other specific equipment to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies for a reason. Providing these weapons can pose risks to our communities, undermine civil liberties, and improperly blur the line between military and civil authority.

“We should be especially concerned about handing this equipment to law enforcement agencies without proper training; processes to track where the equipment goes; and enforcement of rules that suspend law enforcement agencies from the program when they violate the law and civil rights.

“That is not an idle concern. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found that the 1033 program’s controls for the federal law enforcement program were so inadequate that it provided potentially lethal controlled equipment to a fake Federal law enforcement agency. In the wake of that incident, I have called for the suspension of the program’s controlled-property transfers until adequate controls are in place.

“The demonstrated lack of controls in the 1033 program for federal law enforcement should give us additional pause regarding expansion of the program for state, local, and tribal agencies. While some transfers under the 1033 program are valuable, excessive militarization of our civilian police forces is highly inappropriate and we should not be repealing the safeguards established by the Obama administration, especially in the face of these documented problems and documented risks.”