Kenyatta, Rabb introduce bill to limit military equipment going to local law enforcement

HARRISBURG, Sept. 28 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Chris Rabb, both D-Phila., on Monday introduced legislation (H.B. 1923) that would limit local law enforcement’s ability to procure military-grade weapons and equipment.

Kenyatta said his bill would prohibit local law enforcement’s access to certain military-grade weapons and equipment they have been able to access under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997. The Department of Defense has been providing military equipment to law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, which transfers excess military equipment to U.S. police forces.

Tear gas and rubber ammo are the types of items law enforcement agencies would be limited in acquiring from federal military surplus, and local police would be required to maintain a database and be approved by local authorities.  

“Law enforcement can protect and serve the communities in which they operate without military-grade weapons and equipment, which only increases tensions between communities and law enforcement and lead to distrust,” Kenyatta said.  

Rabb agreed.

"Law enforcement agencies do not need military-grade weapons and equipment to achieve their primary responsibility, which is to keep safe the communities they take an oath to serve," Rabb said. "We have enabled our law enforcement agencies to become militarized and create war zones in our communities over the past several decades.

“Our goal is to build trust between law enforcement and the community and ensure that resources intended to serve the entire community are used well,” he said.

The bill is expected to be referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review.