Tuesday in Washington D.C. at a Senate Hearing from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the Department of Defense selling military grade weapons to local police forces, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) grilled Alan F. Estevez, the Assistant Secretary of Defense and from Homeland Security, and FEMA Brian Kamoie, over local police being supplied with armored personnel carriers and thousands of bayonets.
Partial transcript as follows:
PAUL: One of the fundamental things about America is dissent, and the ability to have dissent. It needs to be peaceful. There needs to be repercussions for those who do not act in a peaceful way. But confronting those with armored personnel carriers is thoroughly un-American and for 150 years, we’ve had rules separating the military, keeping the military out of policing affairs. But you sort of obscure that separation if you allow the police to become the military.
In FEMA’s authorized equipment list there’s actually written descriptions for how the equipment should be used and it says it’s specifically not supposed to be used for riot suppression. Mr. Kamoie, is that true, that it’s not supposed to be used for riot suppression? And how do you plan on policing that since the images clearly show us large pieces of equipment that were bought with your grants used in that riot suppression, or protest suppression rather?”
KAMOIE: Sen. Paul, that is accurate. The categories of personal protective equipment that include helmets, ear and eye protection, ballistics, personal protective equipment. There’s a prohibition in the authorized equipment list not to be used for riot suppression.
PAUL: What will you do about it?
KAMOIE: We’re going to follow the lead of the Department of Justice’s investigation about the facts. We’re going to work with the state of Missouri to determine what pieces of equipment were grant funded. And then we have a range of remedies available to us should there be any finding of noncompliance with those requirements. Those include everything from corrective action plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again, recoupment of funds. So, we’ll look closely at the facts, but we’re going to allow the investigation to run its course and determine what the appropriate remedy is.
PAUL: But, it gets back to the whole question. If you’re a police force anywhere in the country from Dundee, Michigan, of 3900, which has an MRAP (mine-resistance ambush protection) to 25 other cities under 25,000 have MRAP’s, they think these are for riot suppression. Well, I don’t know what they think they’re for in a city of 3900 people. But, many of the police forces think this is what the equipment is good for, is riot suppression in a big city, urban area. You’re specifically instructing that it’s not for that. We’ve talked about we’ve had maybe two instances of terrorism. We spend billions and billions of dollars and maybe two instances of terrorism. So I think by supplying all of this free equipment, much of which is, frankly, inappropriate, really shouldn’t be on anybody’s list of authorized equipment. Mr. Estevez, in the NPR investigation of 1033 program they list that 12,000 bayonets have been given out. What purpose are bayonets being given out for?
ESTEVEZ: Senator, bayonets are available under the program. I can’t answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for.
PAUL: I can give you an answer: None. So, what’s President Obama’s Administration’s position on handing out bayonets to the police force? It’s on your list. You guys create the list. Are you going to take it off the list or are we going to keep doing it?
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