Sen. Millett introduces bill to limit militarization of local police forces

Posted: October 25, 2017 | Senator Millett

Sen. Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, has introduced a bill to establish local oversight and transparency relating to any proposed military equipment donations from the Pentagon to local law enforcement agencies.

LR 2483 establishes a system of local oversight for county and municipal law enforcement agencies that participate in a Pentagon’s program that allows those agencies to obtain excess military equipment, including arms and armored vehicles. The legislation would require local law enforcement requesting military equipment to first obtain permission from their communities’ elected officials.

Legislation similar to LR 2483 this bill was signed into law in New Jersey by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2015.

“This bill is about creating the opportunity for Maine communities to have oversight of military grade equipment procurement,” said Sen. Millett. “It allows the public to determine that any such equipment is appropriate for use by their law enforcement departments and does not represent an undo financial burden for storage, training and maintenance.”

In existence since 1990, the Pentagon’s 1033 program but was curtailed in 2014 after questions were raised about the increasing militarization of local police forces. The program was reinstated this summer by an Executive Order issued by President Trump.

There has been bipartisan opposition to President Trump’s move, including legislation introduced by US Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

“Taking on some of these pieces of equipment require large, continual expenditures from property taxpayers in terms of training, storage and maintenance,” said Sen. Millett. “These are not decisions that should like with one person or department alone, but be placed in the hands of people who have to live with those decisions for years to come.”