Gill Statement on Governor’s Action
On Legislation To Increase Oversight
of Military Equipment Program
TRENTON, NJ – Senator Nia H. Gill issued the following statement on action taken by the governor on legislation she sponsored to increase transparency and oversight of the federal Department of Defense 1033 program in New Jersey. The federal program provides for the transfer of surplus military equipment from the federal government to local law enforcement agencies.
The governor signed into law legislation (S2363) requiring local governments to approve by resolution the acquisition of military equipment through the program by local law enforcement agencies. The local governing body also must approve the enrollment of a county or municipal law enforcement agency in the 1033 program. The governor conditionally vetoed a second bill (S2364) requiring increased oversight of the program by the Attorney General:
“This is a major victory for the residents of this state. This new law dramatically changes the way the program is run in New Jersey. For years, police departments across the state acquired surplus military equipment from the federal program without the knowledge of the public. This will provide a new level of oversight, and increased transparency and accountability over the acquisition of military equipment intended to be used by law enforcement in our communities.
“Under this law, a police department that wants to acquire a mine resistant vehicle, M16s or a grenade launcher must now justify the need for this equipment to the governing body. The county freeholders or local officials will have the ability to assess whether the equipment is appropriate for use in its neighborhoods and whether officers are trained for its use. Importantly, the governing body must approve the acquisition of equipment at a public meeting, giving residents the opportunity to weigh in. This is a seismic shift in the way this program has run for the past number of years in New Jersey.
“I will assess the potential impact of the changes suggested by the governor in his conditional veto of the other bill. I believe strongly that the attorney general has a role to play in overseeing the transfer of military equipment from the federal government to police departments in our communities. However, the new law for the first time gives local governments authority over this process and the ability to oversee the transfers. This is an important step forward in the effort to bring transparency and accountability to a program that has operated for years under the radar.”
– New Jersey Senate Democrats