Target: United States Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin
Goal: Praise the beginning a review of military weapon transfers to the police
The current situation in Ferguson, Missouri has seen heavily armed police officers facing off against often-peaceful protesters, and the images of armored vehicles and automatic weapons have prompted many to question why the police in the United States are so often equipped with military style weapons and gear. The answer is comparatively simple; since 1990 over 8,000 state and local law enforcement agencies have bought over $4 billion worth of weapons and other equipment from the Department of Defense, according to The New York Times. These purchases were meant to supply police offices for the “War on Drugs”. Now, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, has declared that he will start looking into this militarization of police.
The program to supply police forces with military-grade weaponry began because Congress was concerned that “local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals,” Senator Levin said. But there is a difference, of course, between violent drug dealers and peaceful protesters, or even petty criminals. Senator Levin intends to make certain that police forces use equipment provided to them by the Department of Defense as intended, against those people who are actually a threat. Such a review seems sorely needed; currently police forces have access to military firearms, armored transports, mine-proof vehicles and other items that would not be at all necessary unless deployed in something resembling an actual warzone.
Senator Levin is in an excellent position to achieve progress on this issue and assure that police forces receive only the equipment they need to perform their duties. By signing this petition, you will thank the senator for tackling this problem.
Dear Senator Levin,
Your recent announcement that you would investigate the transfer of military weapons and equipment to police forces is a welcome one, especially considering the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Though it is in everyone’s interests to ensure that police officers have the materials they need to safely perform their duties, that does not mean that they need to possess large amounts of automatic weapons and armored vehicles. Making certain that they use equipment provided to them as intended is a task of great importance.
As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, you are the perfect person for this job. Thank you for using your power and position to investigate the militarization of the police.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bill Koplitz via Wikimedia Commons