Trump could lift ban on military equipment for United States police

Trump could lift ban on military equipment for United States police”

Images of a seemingly militarized police force spurred President Barack Obama to limit the distribution of military hardware to state and local police.

President Trump is expected to roll back on an Obama-era policy banning the militarization of local police departments, according to a report.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to address the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police union, and he may outline the program changes there.

Trump has been a vocal supporter of police during both his campaign and his administration.

The documents, first reported by USA Today, note Trump's order emphasizes public safety over the appearance of the equipment.

The surplus sharing agreement, also known as the "1033 program", was created by Congress almost 30 years ago as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

In addition to the aircrafts, command units, battering rams, and riot gear, that Obama's executive order made exceptions for, police departments will, once again, be able to receive "armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, and ammunition" from the Department of Defense. Police paid nothing more than transportation or shipping costs to get the equipment. Police responded in riot gear and deployed tear gas, dogs and armored vehicles. The 1033 program received new scrutiny as public records showed how much military surplus had been distributed to local police nationally.

Several law enforcement groups have been calling for the reversal of Obama's program saying the equipment was necessary when responding to turmoil in communities. In 2016, the government began recalling previously-issued surplus gear that had been placed on the prohibited equipment list.

Most police agencies rarely require military equipment for daily use but see a need to have it available, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

The program was expanded in 1997 to include all local law enforcement operations, including counter-terrorism.

Obama initiated the ban after police in Ferguson, Missouri, used armored vehicles and other heavy equipment when dealing with unrest there in 2014 following the shooting death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. Police departments will also be able to buy military gear from "other sources" through grant programs that Sessions will apparently restore. "It sends the message that we care more about public safety than about how a piece of equipment looks, especially when that equipment has been shown to reduce crime, reduce complaints against and assaults on police, and makes officers more effective".

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