Barr wants divide between police and military but worries about cost to local businesses

08/22/2014 04:28 PM

As unrest in Ferguson continues and many lawmakers discuss the possible need for legislation to demilitarize the police forces, Kentucky U.S. Rep. Andy Barr says the federal government needs to make sure they are not hurting businesses selling that type of equipment in the process.

As reported by WFPL , Congress voted down a measure proposed by a Democratic Congressman to de-militarize the police forces. The bill would have banned the use of funds to transfer a wide range of very specific military grade weapons and equipment to local police forces, which is part of the 1033 program.

Since it was put in place, the 1033 program has spent more than $5 billion to equip police agencies with the weapons and equipment to fight drugs and terrorism, according to the WFPL story.

The amendment voted on in June failed a vote in the house with a 62-355 vote with only one of Kentucky’s congressmen—Republican Thomas Massie of Vanceburg—voting in favor of the proposal.

Barr, R-Lexington, voted against the legislation. When asked about whether or not the unrest in Ferguson has changed his opinion on the legislation, Barr told Pure Politics there should be a difference between the police and the military but there needs to be a closer look taken at who the piece of legislation would be impacting.

“There should be a clear difference between military and civilian police obviously. We live in a free society and we don’t want a militarized police in that sense,” Barr said. “But there are also interests relating to local law enforcement access to affordable equipment and so we want to look at what programs are available.”

Congressman Barr said that one of the concerns he has is making sure that the federal government does not get in the business of competing with private businesses who make and supply police gear.

Barr brought up Galls, a business based in Lexington that supplies law enforcement equipment and apparel, which he said is doing well right now but business could be hurt if the federal government got involved by scaling back on the program.

“Galls is actually doing very well right now, they are on an uptick. They are taking over a lot of the market share in this area, in fact they are the supplier to the Los Angeles police department and they are located right in Lexington, Kentucky. So they are doing well but we have to monitor that situation to make sure that the federal government is not competing with local Lexington business,” Barr said.


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