Dec 02 2015

Shelby Calls on President Obama to Reverse Dangerous Executive Order Impacting Alabama

WASHINGTON, DC – Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today called on President Obama to reverse his dangerous executive order, which has resulted in two unarmed, tracked armored vehicles being taken from the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office:

“Time and time again, President Obama abuses the authority of his office by making unilateral decisions through executive fiat.  From his attempts to grant executive amnesty to illegal immigrants and his plans to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States, to his decision to take away vehicles from local law enforcement in Calhoun County, it is clear that this president is more interested in scoring political points than ensuring the safety of our citizens.

“We live in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world, and we cannot allow President Obama to prioritize protecting those trying to do us harm over those trying to protect us. I will continue to fight against this flawed, irresponsible executive action that expands Washington’s influence in our communities and weakens local law enforcement’s ability to protect us.”

Click here for a PDF of Senator Shelby’s letter to President Obama or view it below.

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama: 

I was extremely disturbed to learn that the Defense Logistics Agency is removing two unarmed, tracked armored vehicles from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s office in Alabama.  These military surplus vehicles, obtained through the Section 1033 program, have been valuable to local law enforcement in Calhoun County. For example, one of the vehicles has been used to search a wooded area for a man suspected of shooting and killing a local police officer.  Another one has been used to assist the community during ice storms.  While some may argue that the use of military surplus equipment by law enforcement “militarizes” our law enforcement agencies in ways contrary to civil rights and liberties, I strongly disagree with the premise that local governments do not strive to support and be sensitive to their communities.  In addition, where misuse of such equipment does occur, civil and criminal remedies exist to properly address any agency that takes advantage of this system.

During this time of increased uncertainty at home and abroad, the American people are looking to your Administration and the federal government to keep them safe.  Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that you are more interested in providing favors for political and ideological friends.  Citizens across Alabama and America wonder why your Administration is attacking local law enforcement while criminals and terrorists are taking advantage of a system in which politically correct policies are advanced by lawyers and activists who profit by accusing police and soldiers of abuses.  Let me be clear, while some isolated incidents of police misconduct do occur, your executive action undermines the men and women in uniform and the safety of American citizens.

In the wake of events in Ferguson and the lawlessness that followed, I understand the need for a national debate about how to balance the rights of law-abiding citizens with the tools and policies necessary for public safety.  As Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have supported such a debate and have worked to enact policies in appropriations legislation for the Department of Justice on this subject. For example, we have made great strides in common-sense, community-driven policies such as increased availability of body cameras and enhanced community policing.

It comes as no surprise to those of us in Alabama that you have aligned your policies with those who would have us believe that the biggest problem in communities is the police, and your executive order regarding surplus military equipment is one case in point.  Communities in Alabama and across the country depend on the Section 1033 program to obtain equipment that they could not otherwise afford.  Your new prohibitions on types of equipment – like unarmed, tracked armored vehicles, .50 caliber weapons, and others – suggest that you believe that you know better than leaders of our communities what tools they need to help keep their citizens safe.  After the unprecedented overreach of your executive actions on issues such as immigration and the environment, Americans are sick and tired of liberal elites substituting their so-called wisdom for local efforts to meet the needs of our families and communities.

In the aftermath of the attack in Paris and surge of terrorist violence across the world, I ask that you revisit this misguided and dangerous policy on surplus military equipment.  Our citizens need their national leaders to place the safety of our communities and those who protect them above criminals, terrorists, and politics.  Congress will surely review and respond to these misguided policies in 2016.


Richard Shelby

U.S. Senator