Law enforcement lobbyists back the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general in part because they want to seize more cash and property from criminal suspects and they want military hardware.
The Major County Sheriffs’ Association, a lobby group representing elected sheriffs, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee to endorse Sessions as a “uniquely qualified candidate” in part on account of his views on issues including military surplus equipment and asset forfeiture. Jonathan Thompson, the chief executive of the National Sheriffs Association, was even more blunt. Sessions “understands the importance of the 1033 Program that provides excess, protective resources and equipment law enforcement needs to carry out their duty,” Thompson wrote, strongly endorsing the Alabama senator’s nomination.
Police and law enforcement groups are hoping that Donald Trump’s administration rolls back some of the reforms in these areas during the last few years.
The Obama administration ended the transfer of some categories of military equipment to local police, including grenade launchers and bayonets. The administration also attempted a partial reform of the controversial “Equitable Sharing” program under the Department of Justice, by which the federal government partners with state and local police agencies to seize cash and property believed to be used in association with a crime. The program, which has been criticized for creating unjust monetary incentives for law enforcement, has netted over $3 billion worth of assets since 2008. Asset forfeiture programs have not ended, and there are still circumstances that allow the Equitable Sharing program to continue.
Despite relatively small-scale reforms, the changes have enraged law enforcement lobbyists, who now are hoping that Sessions will take a new approach. Sessions has spoke out in defense of asset forfeiture, and is believed to share Trump’s support of the 1033 program.