Obama Reins In Military-Style Equipment For Local Police Departments
The federal government will no longer provide tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, grenade launchers, and bayonets to local police forces.
The administration also released the final report of a policing task force Obama created after the violent protests that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. The 116-page report calls for law enforcement agencies to "embrace a guardian — rather than a warrior — mind-set to build trust and legitimacy both within agencies and the public."
Obama will address the report and restrictions during a visit Monday to Camden, New Jersey. Crime rates there skyrocketed several years ago, which led to the extraordinary measure officials replacing the city's police force with one run by the state. Now, the White House said, that county force has become a model for good relations between the community and police.
The federal government will no longer provide armored vehicles that move on tracks – like tanks — weaponized aircraft, firearms and ammunition greater than of .50-caliber, grenade launchers, and bayonets.
The program began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the White House defended it after the Boston Marathon bombings. The practice came under wide scrutiny after the Ferguson Police Department rolled out the heavy gear to quell protests after an officer shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown.
"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those lines blurred," Obama said last August.
The measure takes effect immediately, the White House said, adding that they are looking into ways to recall any banned equipment currently on loan to local law enforcement agencies.
The new regulation will also strictly control other weapons and gear that gets distributed to local departments, such as wheeled armored vehicles such as Humvees, manned aircraft, drones, specialized firearms, explosives, battering rams, and riot batons, helmets, and shields, according to the Associated Press. Police departments will now have to get approval from a local governing board — such as the mayor or city council — to borrow the equipment.