Opinion

Obama limits military-style equipment feds can provide to police

Citing a possible misuse or overuse of military equipment by local authorities, the Obama administration announced Monday that it’s revising its policy on the transfer of surplus military hardware to local police departments.

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Source: rt.com

This decision comes after a four-month Cabinet working group study, which determined that eight categories of military hardware should now be off-limits to local agencies, according to The Hill.

Those items include grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets, and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.

The Hill reported:

Other federally supplied equipment, such as wheeled armored vehicles, drones, helicopters, firearms and riot gear, will come with new strings attached for local police to ensure officers are trained in their use and in “community policing, constitutional policing and community input.”

In addition, local authorities requesting such equipment must now demonstrate a “clear and persuasive explanation” for requesting it.

The study indicated a “substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items,” which “could significantly undermine community trust,” according to The Hill.

The working group was launched in response to public reaction to images of military hardware being used to quell riots in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere around the country following police-related deaths of black men.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, working with civil rights organizations, wants to go even further, and are promoting an outright end to the Pentagon’s 1033 program that allows for the transfer of surplus hardware to locals.

The Hill reported:

More than $4 billion of military equipment has been transferred to police under the 1033 program since it was created in the late 1990s. But almost 150 law enforcement agencies have been suspended over the last six years for losing track of equipment, according to ABC News and Fusion.

In addition, the administration is promoting the use of body cams by local police as well as increased transparency of police-related incidents.

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