Law Enforcement Lobbying Defeated “Militarization” Bills After Ferguson Shooting


In the aftermath of the Ferguson police shooting grand jury decision, what happened to the talk in Congress about reforming the “militarization” of police? As recently as August 31, Politico reported on lawmakers’ optimism that Ferguson “actually will lead to some policy changes.” Later, Politico reported that lobbyists for the cops were likely to save the federal military gear program. That is what seems to have happened. “Nothing much has happened except that some members of Congress had kneejerk reactions to the optics of Ferguson or the rhetoric of Ferguson,” Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police told Bloomberg News said, “They thought there was something problematic about the equipment they saw on the streets. In the intervening period, some of them have come to see that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's not what the equipment looks like, it's what its utility is.”

Pasco said FOP members reached out to “maybe 80 percent of senators and half the House.” Because militarization was at the greatest risk in the Democratic Senate, the disparity made sense. Pasco says many members of Congress “jumped on this militarization issue because it made them look like being in the mix on Ferguson without being in the mix on Ferguson. Rather than be proponents of good public policy, they were practicing that tactic of political opportunism.”

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