David Jolly formally files bill to require local law enforcement to be trained to use military equipment

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Local police agencies that use military equipment earmarked for counter-terrorism to handle public order disturbances instead could be forced to repay millions of dollars in grants, under a review revealed during the first congressional hearing of the events that transpired this summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

"We have a range of remedies should [the DOJ] find noncompliance, including recoupment of funds,” Brian Kamoie of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told Kentucky senator Rand Paul on Tuesday during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Paul said he was horrified by the “thoroughly un-American” policing tactics seen in Ferguson, and called for an immediate end to the 1033 program, which has provided 12,000 bayonets, 5,200 humvees and 617 mine-resistant armored vehicles (MRAPs) to civilian forces across the US.

Also in Washington, Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly has officially filed a bill that requires Federal, State, and local agencies to which surplus military equipment and personal property is sold or donated demonstrate that agency personnel are certified, trained, or licensed, as appropriate, in the proper operation of the equipment prior to the sale or donation.

Jolly told CL last month that he would file such legislation upon returning to Washington, but unlike Rand Paul, he doesn't want to get rid of the 1033 program. "The important thing about law enforcement is that it's exercised in a way that respects individuals' due process.The tools of law enforcement are never the issue."

At Tuesday's hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said committee investigators had found there were now more MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored personnel vehicles) in the hands of local police forces than the national guard, and that 36 percent of all surplus equipment received direct from the military was new or unused.

"How in the world can anyone say that this program has one lick of oversight?" she asked. “I want to make sure we are clear about how out of control this is.” She added that there was no evidence that such tools were needed or that local police knew how to use them.

The Tampa Tribune has reported that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has received M14 rifles through the program. The Tampa Police Department has gotten utility trucks and an armored commando V-150 car. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has two mine-resistant vehicles and several armored trucks.

CL reached out to both TPD Chief Jane Castor and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Tuesday afternoon. As of this morning they had not returned our calls for comment. 

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