” Senators on Tuesday criticized federal programs that outfit police departments with military gear, saying they waste funds and sow mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they police.
At a hearing called to examine what critics call police militarization, members of the Senate’s homeland-security committee expressed deep skepticism toward some equipment used by local police departments.
The issue has gained new attention in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the killing of an unarmed black teenager by police. The Obama administration is reviewing federal programs that equip local departments.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) singled out a one-man police department in Michigan that she said had received 13 assault weapons. Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) criticized the 14,000 bayonets the Pentagon distributed to local law enforcement across the country for reasons he said he couldn’t fathom.
“Giving military-grade weapons to every police force and every officer comes with costs,” Ms. McCaskill said. “Officers dressed in military fatigues will not be viewed as partners in any community.” “