Conyers, Scott and Johnson Seek Complete Accounting of Police Tactics & Training from DOJ

December 3, 2014
Press Release
Congressmen pen letter to Attorney General Holder raising questions on police training, monitoring, and controlling of SWAT officers and use of militarized equipment by local law enforcement & SWAT officers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder begin to act on recommendations of an Administration review of federal programs and funding that provide military equipment to local law enforcement agencies; and discussions begin on how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country, Reps. John Conyers (MI-13), Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Hank Johnson (GA04) sent a letter to Attorney General Holder raising questions on the  role the Department of Justice plays in the training, monitoring, and controlling SWAT officers and the use of militarized equipment by local law enforcement and SWAT officers.  The Congressman are all members of the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The letter asks 17 specific questions to better understand how officers are trained and whether legislation is needed to help correct any potential problems that arise from the inquiry.

“Though we empower law enforcement to protect us, we also need to oversee the tactics they are employing on our behalf,” said Rep.  John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee.  “I applaud the efforts of our President and Attorney General for announcing plans to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and for reforming the process of providing equipment to law enforcement agencies.  At this time, my colleagues and I ask the Attorney General for more information about the use of military-style equipment by law enforcement and the use of SWAT units by police.  I hope our dialog on these issues will help improve the relationships between police and the communities they protect.”

“I am concerned about reported abuses of SWAT tactics and the militarization of domestic law enforcement,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03).  “Law enforcement officers should be appropriately equipped to deal with domestic law enforcement issues, but when a military response is appropriate, the National Guard should be called.”

“We are aware of reports from across the country of officers using excessive force against civilians, children being the unintended victims of SWAT officer activities, the increasing use of militarized equipment by SWAT officers, and the failure of SWAT officers to effectively maintain large crowds, as seen in Missouri,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a senior member the Judiciary Committee.  “In 2014 alone, there have been 34 deaths resulting from SWAT raids.  We are concerned this number will continue to grow as the use of SWAT officers and militarized equipment increases across the country. We are alarmed by cases we hear of SWAT officers raiding the homes of civilians wrongly suspected of being involved in drug-related activity.”

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To read the letter, see attached or click HERE.