Ohio House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would restrain state law enforcement’s ability to secure military grade-equipment.
House Bill (HB) 721, which was introduced by state Representatives Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Erica Crawley (D-Columbus), wants to reform Ohio’s participation in the federal program 1033. This program provides law enforcement agencies with military equipment from the Defense Logistics Agency at discounted rates or no cost.
If HB 721 did become law, it would prevent the transfer of “drones, aircraft, grenades, grenade launchers and weaponized armored vehicles from the Defense Logistics Agency to local law enforcement agencies,” according to Crawley’s press release.
“This type of military-grade equipment was largely intended to be used in counter-terrorism activity by trained military personnel. Deploying this equipment in the field is counterproductive and proves to be escalatory,” said Rep. Weinstein. “In the exceedingly rare event where the use of military-grade equipment might become necessary, it should be properly trained members of the military responding, not law enforcement.”
Crawley said that Ohio must address how the militarization of law enforcement agencies has broken down relations between police and communities.
“Community trust is vital to the foundation of safe communities; however, when militarized equipment is used, it is believed that law enforcement officers adopt a warrior mindset where the public is the enemy rather than the people they serve,” she said. “To achieve the foundational trust, the view of police as a military unit going into war against the public must be eliminated.”
Last week, Ohio House Democrats introduced four pieces of legislation aimed at reforming police departments in Ohio. These proposals wanted to implement more state law enforcement training, eliminate the use of tear gas, establish a use of force police database, and prevent police officers from engaging in biased policing.
– – –
Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2.
Photo “Ohio Law Enforcement” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.