Do You Really Need Camouflage In Missouri? Obama De-Militarizes Police Forces
You would think that police officers are battling ISIS with their access to grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and camouflage uniforms. President Obama is cracking down on the militarization of America’s police force and yanking those bayonets right out of their hands, Quartz reports.
The White House announced that police access to certain military equipment will be banned. Public outrage took off when images revealed by news media showed local police forces confronting protesters in heavy military gear. Quartz points out that the lines between police and military operations were beginning to blur — especially in minority communities.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a 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 AP quotes Obama, nine months after the Ferguson, MO protests. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message,” he added.
On Monday, in Camden, NJ, Obama announced his move to demilitarize local police forces.
Under his order, tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, and large-caliber firearms and ammunition will no longer be provided to state and local police.
There is an exception, though. According to Quartz, “law enforcement agencies that meet certain standards for training—including policies in place for better relations with their communities—will be able to obtain certain controlled surplus items.”
(Media Matters notes the overstatement on Fox News. Obama is not “disarming” the police.)
Still, it’s a step in the right direction for critics who protested against police militarization, which rose into prominence last year with the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Acknowledging the outcry, Obama announced that he would order a review of the programs that provide the heavy military gear.
The review, published in December, found that five federal agencies spent $18 billion on military equipment, including 5,235 Humvees, 617 mine-resistant vehicles and 616 aircraft, according to AP.
The White House defended the expenses, arguing that the armory is useful in terrorism cases such as the Boston Marathon bombing.
Though POTUS is rescinding access to military gear, he’s pushing for police forces to wear body cameras to “increase accountability,” Quartz said.