Rand Paul Deserves Thanks for Focus on Police Militarization

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I am definitely not generally a fan of Rand Paul, but I am thankful that he, virtually alone among conservatives, has not been swept away by the well organized and ghoulish police union PR campaign sparked by the senseless murder of two NYPD officers last weekend.

WASHINGTON — A version of the police militarization debate will be part of the Senate agenda next term.

Next year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Rand Paul93%Senate Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard93% will reintroduce a bill that goes after the federal programs that send military-grade equipment to local police departments, staff for the Kentucky Republican told BuzzFeed News.

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Coburn’s bill — which is very similar to legislation Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Hank Johnson8%House Democrat AverageSee Full Scorecard8% of Georgia has vowed to reintroduce in the House next Congress — targets a small fraction of the millions of dollars worth of military surplus shipped by the Pentagon to local law enforcement each year under the Defense Department’s so-called 1033 program. Most of the surplus equipment is mundane — office furniture, uniforms, etc. But the most controversial 1033 shipments see vehicles and weapons used by the U.S. armed forces sent to local police. Coburn’s bill would ban that practice while keeping the non-lethal surplus flowing.

The murder of officers Ramos and Liu is absolutely to be lamented, and our hearts go out to their family and friends. But police unions have callously, transparently, and (let us be honest) deftly used their deaths to unjustifiably shift the national spotlight away from police practices and lack of accountability. More directly, they have shoehorned this incident into their already-ongoing national push to have their budget for military style equipment (in particular, body armor) increased.

The police and their defenders-at-all-costs have taken the sad story of Ramos and Liu and used it to brand as “anti-cop” anyone who points out that the basic facts on the ground haven’t changed. Facts, such as the fact that Ramos and Liu were the first NYPD officers killed by gunfire since 2011, or that civilians are between 10-15 times more likely to be killed by police than vice versa, that by far the most common killer of police is not violence of any …read more    

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