American Crossroads President Steven Law Calls on Hillary Clinton to Rescind Endorsement of Obama’s Anti-Police Executive Order and Support Senator Pat Toomey’s Lifesaving Gear for Police Act

“One year ago Hillary Clinton endorsed President Obama’s ban on military-grade tactical equipment for those on the front lines fighting terrorism—our police—and yesterday she was gushing about the very protective gear she had vowed to restrict when pandering to anti-police groups.

“Clinton needs to put protection of our front-line first responders ahead of politics by withdrawing her endorsement of the president’s equipment ban, and pledging her support for Senator Pat Toomey’s ‘Life Saving Gear for Police Act.’” – American Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law

BACKGROUND

Sen. Toomey’s Lifesaving Gear for Police Act

Sen. Toomey has introduced legislation to reverse President Obama’s directive that prevents local police from obtaining certain lifesaving federal gear:

·         “U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has introduced legislation to ensure that our police officers have the tools they need to protect themselves and our communities from violent criminals and terrorists.” (Sen. Pat Toomey, “Sen. Toomey Works to Restore Lifesaving Gear to Police, Local Communities,” Press Release, 3/17/16)

o   Sen. Toomey introduced S. 2694, Lifesaving Gear for Police Act, on March 16, 2016, and it currently awaits consideration in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (S. 2694, Introduced 3/16/16)

·         “Sen. Toomey’s Lifesaving Gear for Police Act reverses President Obama’s dangerous restrictions, and requires the Administration to return gear that it has seized from local police departments.” (Sen. Pat Toomey, “Sen. Toomey Works to Restore Lifesaving Gear to Police, Local Communities,” Press Release, 3/17/16)

o   In May 2015, President Obama issued a directive that prevents local police from obtaining certain lifesaving federal gear, and has since begun seizing this gear from local police departments. “In May 2015, President Obama issued a directive that prevents local police from obtaining certain lifesaving federal gear, and has since begun seizing this gear from local police departments. This is surplus equipment that the federal government will not use. And much of it is purely defensive, such as riot helmets, riot shields, and armored vehicles.” (Sen. Pat Toomey, “Sen. Toomey Works to Restore Lifesaving Gear to Police, Local Communities,” Press Release, 3/17/16)

·         “The following organizations have endorsed Sen. Toomey’s legislation:

• Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
• Fraternal Order of Police
• International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
• Major County Sheriffs’ Association
• National Association of Police Organizations
• National Sheriffs’ Association
• Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City”
(Sen. Pat Toomey, “Sen. Toomey Works to Restore Lifesaving Gear to Police, Local Communities,” Press Release, 3/17/16)

Obama and Hillary Clinton on Police Demilitarization

In May 2015, President Obama issued an executive order that banned the federal government from providing certain military equipment to local police departments:

·         On May 18, 2015, President Obama banned the federal government from providing police departments with certain military equipment, such as tracked armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and bayonets. “In an unexpected move, President Barack Obama on Monday will ban the federal government from providing certain military equipment to police departments. Effective immediately, the government will no longer provide local law enforcement with tracked armored vehicles, grenade launchers and bayonets.” (Jennifer Bendery, “President Barack Obama Bans Some Military-Style Equipment Provided To Police,” The Huffington Post, Updated 5/18/15)

o   “The new prohibitions are part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued for federal agencies to review the types of equipment they provide to local and state police.” (Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak and Allison Malloy, “Obama will restrict grenade launchers, military equipment from local police,” CNN, 5/18/15)

·          “Other items like explosives and riot equipment will be transferred to police only if they provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly.” (Jennifer Bendery, “President Barack Obama Bans Some Military-Style Equipment Provided To Police,” The Huffington Post, Updated 5/18/15)

o   “The presidential order established a ‘controlled equipment’ list, with tightened requirements before federal agencies can transfer equipment to local cops. These include riot control equipments and drones.” (Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak and Allison Malloy, “Obama will restrict grenade launchers, military equipment from local police,” CNN, 5/18/15)

§  NOTE: “Local police can still bypass the federal restrictions and bans by buying the equipment from private sellers.” (Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak and Allison Malloy, “Obama will restrict grenade launchers, military equipment from local police,” CNN, 5/18/15)

·         OBAMA: “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community…We’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments.” “During his remarks Monday in Camden, Obama explained his reasoning for pulling certain military equipment from police departments. ‘We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community,’ he said to applause. ‘We’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments.’” (Jennifer Bendery, “President Barack Obama Bans Some Military-Style Equipment Provided To Police,” The Huffington Post, Updated 5/18/15)

Clinton supported Obama’s plan to ban the federal government from transferring certain military-style equipment to local law enforcement:

·         The Huffington Post headline: “Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Plan To Reverse Police Militarization” (Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly, “Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Plan To Reverse Police Militarization,”The Huffington Post, 5/18/15)

·         “President Barack Obama’s executive order banning the federal government from transferring certain types of military-style equipment to police forces would remain in place if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2016.” (Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly, “Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Plan To Reverse Police Militarization,”The Huffington Post, 5/18/15)

·         “Clinton is ‘supportive of the recommendations and of the need for reform,’ a spokesperson for the Democratic candidate said Monday after Obama announced in Camden, New Jersey, that the transfer of certain military gear to police would be sharply curtailed.” (Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly, “Hillary Clinton Backs Obama Plan To Reverse Police Militarization,” The Huffington Post, 5/18/15)

While campaigning for President, Clinton has spoken out against police militarization:

·         VIDEO: CLINTON: “…[W]e really do need to look hard at preventing the militarization of local police forces. And that means a lot of this heavy military equipment that was either already manufactured or manufactured after 9-11 which is now made available to local communities should not necessarily end up there.” QUESTION: “Thanks for holding that. Thanks to all of our aides here for doing the work they’re doing to get us in here. Anyway, I want to thank you, Senator Clinton, for speaking out about the problem that corporations that having too much ability to write the rules in this country, which you did at your speech the other day. This is related to that, but related to the city of Dover, which is one that communities across the country that has gotten a grant to acquire military equipment from the federal government, in this case, an armored vehicle called a BearCat, manufactured by a company called Lenco, right. Now, Lenco actively helps cities to figure out how to do the paper work so that they can qualify for the money that the federal government will then provide so that they can get these military vehicles which then cause problems with community relations and communities where the police starts to act, perhaps, more like military forces instead of like people protecting the community. So, I guess my question for you is what steps will you take to make sure that our local law enforcement do not become just another profit center for the military industrial complex.” CLINTON: “You know, that’s a very important question on several levels, one of which you just mentioned. And also, because the militarization of local police has been in many ways a problem over the last couple of years with some of the incidents that we’ve had in communities across our country. So, I have already spoken out. And I said we really do need to look hard at preventing the militarization of local police forces. And that means a lot of this heavy military equipment that was either already manufactured or manufactured after 9-11 which is now made available to local communities should not necessarily end up there. And let me just make this point. Part of the reason for this is that after 9-11, you know, I was a senator from New York so I was there within, you know, hours the next day seeing what had happened in New York. And as part of the effort to try to protect our country through the new Department of Homeland Security, a lot of money was appropriated that would go through that process that could then be used by cities and towns across America. I think it was too broad. I think it was unfortunately lasting too long so that it’s still going on, as you rightly say here. And I just think that local communities working with the federal government need to take a hard look at whether we need to be paying for and subsidizing the transfer of such equipment to local communities. There still may be places in America where it is warranted, but I think it’s gone too far and needs to be reined in. So, thank you for raising that.” (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At A Town Hall Meeting, Dover, NH, Video, 28:48 – 32:05)

·         During a meeting with the Concord Monitor’s editorial staff in December 2015, Clinton said she has questions about the program providing local police departments with surplus military-style equipment from the federal government. “Since the last presidential election cycle, the Concord City Council voted in 2013 to accept a federal grant for an armored BearCat on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit. That decision was met with controversy, and it thrust the capital city into a national conversation about the militarization of police. That vehicle came as part of a decades-old program that provides local police departments with federal surplus material, such as body armor, mine-resistant tanks and automatic rifles. Clinton said she has questions about that program, which was designed to counter terrorism and has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks. ‘That was one of the insights that came out of Ferguson – a heavily armed, very militarized police is in the streets,’ Clinton said. ‘I think we have to look for a balance. When you have mass shootings, when you have terrorist shootings like we had in San Bernardino, oftentimes you need more equipment than you do if it’s a demonstration, a protest in the streets.’” (Megan Doyle, “Hillary Clinton talks ISIS, guns and Donald Trump,” Concord Monitor, 12/9/15)

  • Clinton also called for more community policing, adding “you can’t do that in a BearCat.” “Clinton suggested heavy equipment could perhaps be distributed regionally, so not every town has its own individual arsenal. And she said departments need to get back to community policing, being more integrated and accessible in their communities. ‘You can’t do that in a BearCat,’ she said.” (Megan Doyle, “Hillary Clinton talks ISIS, guns and Donald Trump,”Concord Monitor, 12/9/15)

Clinton’s campaign website proposes limiting transfers of military equipment from the federal government to local law enforcement:

·         On Clinton’s campaign website, she proposed “limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.” “Work to strengthen bonds of trust between communities and police. Effective policing and constitutional policing go hand-in-hand—we can and must do both. Hillary will work to promote effective, accountable, constitutional policing, including: … Promoting oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment by limiting the transfer of military equipment by the federal government to local law enforcement, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency by agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.” (“Criminal justice reform,” Hillary For America, Accessed 1/12/16)