Oversight of Military Equipment

March 17, 2015

Johnson: Governor Sends Mixed Message by Signing; Vetoing Bill to Enhance Oversight of Military Equipment Issued to Local Police Depts.

The governor signed bill (A-3901) into law, but conditionally vetoed bill (A-3754)

(TRENTON) - Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) made the following statement Tuesday following a split decision by Gov. Christie on a pair of bills he sponsored to create greater oversight of military equipment issued to local law enforcement agencies by the federal government:

"While I am pleased the governor recognized the importance of having local governments approve requests for military equipment, as mandated by (A-3901), I am disappointed that his vision did not extend to bill (A-3754), which would have required the Attorney General to review the transfer of surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies to ensure their need and proper use.

"Like many others who watched the clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson, I am concerned about the militarization of our police departments, the potential for tragedy and the impact it has on the trust that should exist between law enforcement agencies and the public.

"Giving local governments a say in the type of weaponry that police departments should use when policing neighborhoods is a good start. Signing both bills and providing greater oversight over the type of military equipment that is issued to law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, to ensure the line between police departments and military units is not blurred, would have been better."