In a very welcome move, President Obama is forbidding the sale of some types of military equipment to local police departments and placing restrictions on the sale of some other types of equipment. This is the first time in a long time that anything was done to reduce the militarization of our civilian police departments.
The federal government will no longer provide heavy military equipment like tanks and grenade launchers to local cops following weeks of backlash against officers who confronted protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in armored vehicles and camouflage last year, President Barack Obama said Monday.
And if they want other, less-imposing military equipment, local law enforcement agencies will have to submit to stringent federal oversight and restrictions, according to the White House.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force — as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” the president said Monday, adding that such gear “can alienate and intimidate residents and make them feel scared.”…The president said a community task force on policing that the White House convened suggested restricting providing military-style equipment to local law enforcement from the federal government. The recommendations also included enhanced officer training, improving the use of body cameras and other technologies.
A step in the right direction, though much more needs to be done. The federal subsidies that allow local police departments to buy surplus military equipment need to be ended completely, but that would require congressional action. I’ll be amused to see how some of the far-right paranoiacs like Glenn Beck handle this. They’ve been screaming about how the protests in Baltimore and Ferguson were ginned up by Obama to justify a federal takeover of local police to turn them into Obama’s soldiers. I’m sure they’ll manage to integrate this new policy with it somehow. Being a conspiracy theorist means never being wrong. All new information can be made to support the conspiracy.