February 09, 2022

Warren, Schatz, Colleagues Urge President Biden to Step Up Efforts to Demilitarize Police

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, calling on him to step up efforts to demilitarize the police. The senators urged President Biden to take executive action and reform certain Department of Defense programs that transfer or sell military equipment to law enforcement. 

“We urge you to prioritize the demilitarization of law enforcement by limiting the transfer or purchase of certain military equipment for federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local law enforcement agencies,” the senators wrote. “This should include reforms to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) program to transfer surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies—known as the ‘1033 program’—as well as DoD’s program to allow law enforcement agencies to purchase military equipment—known as the '1122 program.’ Militarized law enforcement increases the prevalence of police violence without making our communities safer. Now is the moment to make these necessary reforms.”


The senators cite reports showing that police militarization fails to reduce rates of violent crime or change the number of officers assaulted or killed. Instead, arming police departments with military equipment has led to an increase in officer-involved shootings and civilian deaths. They called on President Biden to reform the DoD’s 1033 and 1122 program, and take executive action to prohibit certain military equipment from being transferred to police and establish transparency measures on military equipment programs.


Senator Warren is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform and holding law enforcement responsible for protecting the communities they serve and accountable for misconduct. 

  • In June 2021, Senator Warren and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) reintroduced the Enhancing Oversight to End Discrimination in Policing Act to strengthen the U.S. Department of Justice's and state governments' ability to investigate police departments with a pattern or practice of unconstitutional and discriminatory behavior.
  • Senator Warren and Congresswoman Strickland are co-sponsors of Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and then-Senator Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) Justice in Policing Act, which includes provisions to strengthen pattern or practice investigations into police misconduct, including giving DOJ subpoena power in pattern or practice cases and providing grants to state attorneys general to conduct pattern or practice investigations.
  • In June 2020, Senator Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced the Andrew Kearse Accountability for Denial of Medical Care Act to hold law enforcement officers criminally liable for failing to obtain medical assistance to people in custody experiencing medical distress.