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Blunt Cool To Federal Restrictions On Police Militarization

Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt made Kansas City his first stop in a statewide series of "listening sessions" with law enforcement officials on Monday. Blunt is co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Committee.

The Senator said the first conference included county and suburban Missouri law enforcement leaders as well as those from Kansas City. The discussion, he said, centered on what the federal government could do to help local enforcers in emergency and homeland security crisis situations.

In response to reporters' questions about recent disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri, Blunt responded that Ferguson was a tragic incident, but a one-of-a-kind series of events.

"A young man lost his life," he said, but added that it is too early to conclude "what really happened."  It is not too soon, he added, to hope such a situation never happens again.

Though the Senator acknowledged the usefulness of the Justice Department's parallel investigation of the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent civil unrest, he discounted accusations that police are "over-militarized" and should be restricted in their use of military surplus armored vehicles, weapons and personal protective gear.

"Having the Justice Department trying to run their local police department," Blunt said, "is not helpful."

The Senator said he concludes that local law enforcement needs to be in unfettered control of what equipment it uses and under what circumstances that equipment is put in service.

He said some legitimate questions for the federal government would be, "Why is so much unused surplus military equipment available?" and "Why does a department of education need a SWAT team?"

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