I’m writing to urge you to support Rep. Hank Johnson’s bill to limit and track military surplus* local police departments can receive. We’ve seen in recent days, and sadly plenty before that, that departments with this sort of military equipment treat their citizens as enemies in a war zone instead of people they have pledged to protect and serve. It has to end and Representative Johnson’s bill is a step in the right direction.
While this is important all across the country, as people who represent Seattle citizens, it should be especially important to you. After all, Seattle’s police in recent years have been found by the Department of Justice to have (pdf) a “pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing.” Those very same structural problems and bias will be worse when the Police Department uses surplus military weapons and equipment instead of standard, civilian policing.
Again, I hope you will do everything in your power to help move this bill. I realize that the legislative branch isn’t exactly moving forward very quickly on controversial bills these days, but it is still important to pursue.