Letter | Police militarism is local

Every year, 20 young adults gather in Washington, D.C. to train with Friends Committee on National Legislation as Advocacy Corps organizers. As one of the young adult organizers and a constituent of Arizona’s Fourth Congressional District, I just returned to Arizona and will be engaging our community around scaling back the Pentagon’s 1033 program.

Police militarism within the United States continues to increase due to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which transfers surplus military supplies to local law enforcement agencies across the nation. Recipients of the program include everything from local police to border patrol agencies, and the supplies they receive include but are not limited to items such as tracked military vehicles, weaponized drones, and grenades.

Any law enforcement agency can apply for these supplies virtually without any oversight or accountability measures. Mohave County Sheriff’s Office received 114 surplus items from the 1033 program between 2010 and 2018. Kingman Police Department received 127 surplus items from the 1033 program, including two mine resistant vehicles, one of which was added to the fleet this March. Without accountability and oversight measures in place, there is no guarantee of knowing how these are being used.

I ask that our community joins together to ask our members of Congress: Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar, to co-sponsor the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, or H.R. 1556 and S.1856, to improve relationships between law enforcement and the public as well as strengthen accountability and safety in our community.

Sierra E. Cottle

Advocacy Corps Organizer