September 23, 2020

Duckworth, Wyden, Kaine Introduce Bill to Prohibit Federal Law Enforcement Officers From Wearing Camouflage Patterns in the U.S.

WASHINGTON – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years, Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced legislation to prohibit federal law enforcement officers from wearing camouflage patterns in the United States in most cases, since they can easily be confused for military personnel when doing so. At a House Armed Services Committee hearing in July, General Mark A. Milley stated “You want a clear definition between that which is military, and that which is police in my view.”

“The Trump Administration’s decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers outfitted in camouflage uniforms in response to those protesting the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans blurred the lines between military servicemembers and law enforcement officers while causing even more fear and division,” Duckworth said. “We must prevent this from happening again, which is why I’m introducing this legislation that would help ensure there is a clear distinction between the uniforms of federal law enforcement officers and those serving in the military.” 

"Americans around the country have rightly been peacefully protesting the police violence against Black Americans, only to be met with military force from federal law enforcement deployed to American cities by Donald Trump," Wyden said. "American cities aren’t battlefields and law enforcement must act and be equipped accordingly. Yet, Donald Trump is fanning the flames of division, fear and violence with the militarization of federal officers. These authoritarian tactics must be stopped."

“Citizens of a free society shouldn’t be constantly confused about who is military and who is law enforcement,” said Kaine. “Sadly, that has become a regular occurrence across the U.S. this year. This bill will clarify who is who amid protests, strengthening both our liberties and our security.” 

The Clear Visual Distinction Between Military and Law Enforcement Act would also recognize that there are rare circumstances when an exception is needed for federal law enforcement officers to engage in a discreet tactical operation requiring a camouflage pattern to match the surrounding environment in order to successfully conduct the operation. The legislation would also demand rigorous oversight of any time the previously mentioned exception is invoked by requiring a biannual report to Congress that details the date, operation and justification for each invocation.

Duckworth has been outspoken against the Trump Administration’s militarized response to protests this past summer. Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office accepted her request to have the congressional watchdog conduct an independent review of how federal agencies assess the safety, appropriateness and effectiveness of co-called ‘less-lethal’ weapons intended for crowd control purposes. In July, she joined her colleagues in sending a letter to the Trump Administration demanding answers about the use of federal law enforcement against protestors expressing their constitutional First Amendment rights.

 

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