Trump to lift ban on sending some military equipment to police

Tuesday, 29 Aug, 2017

President Trump plans to reverse Obama-era limits on the transfer of surplus military equipment to local police departments.

Speaking to the National Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 28, Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed that President Donald Trump planned to restore the Pentagon's 1033 program, which has recycled more than $5.4 billion in used weaponry and equipment to arm local police officers for a "multi-front battle" against crime, drugs, terrorism, and "a culture in which family and discipline seem to be eroding further and a disturbing disrespect for the rule of law".

In July, a report by the Government Accountability Office said an investigator set up a phony police department and, with fake identification, was able to pick up $1.2 million worth of equipment from Defense Logistics Agency warehouses without any trouble - including night vision goggles and fake pipe bombs used in training.

The announcement today in Nashville from Attorney General Sessions is the latest example of the administration failing to understand the problems of our communities.

Obama still allowed "controlled equipment" to be transferred, however.

A recent study touted by the DOJ also found that "for every $5,800 in military aid given to law enforcement agencies through this program, society saves roughly $112,000 in costs due to prevented crime".

Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate that President Trump is going to sign an executive order reinstating the program.

But Janai Nelson, the NAACP Legal Defense fund's associate general counsel, slammed the move and said that police departments should be there to serve and protect communities - and should not see themselves as military occupiers.

President Barack Obama had blocked the use by police of military surplus equipment in 2015 after protests against the police broke out in different US cities.

Despite widespread unrest, increasing racial tensions and recurring cases of police brutality, the administration of US President Donald Trump is considering lifting restrictions on police for the use of military equipment.

Groups from all across the political spectrum have expressed concern about the militarization of the police, arguing that the equipment fosters and intensifies criminals' confrontations with officers.

"L$3 ocal authorities... have employed armored vehicles, noise-based crowd-control devices, shotguns, M4 rifles like those used by forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, rubber-coated metal pellets, and tear gas", the Washington Post reported at the time.

"Just a few summers ago, our nation watched as Ferguson raised the spectre of increased police militarisation".

And that is why, today, I am here to announce that President Trump is issuing an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities.

Many in state and local law enforcement quickly hailed the decision, with the Major County Sheriffs of America saying the new policy gives them "cause for optimism", pointing out that cash is often transferred by private armored vehicles - such as those operated by Loomis - and demonstrates the equipment is useful.