Trump prepares to lift limits on military gear for police


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is preparing to restore the flow of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies under a program that had been sharply curtailed amid an outcry over police use of armored vehicles and other war-fighting gear to confront protesters.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order undoing an Obama administration directive that restricted police agencies’ access to the gear that includes grenade launchers, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms and ammunition.  

Trump’s order would fully restore the program under which “assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime,” according to the documents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions could outline the changes during a Monday speech to the national conference of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, a person familiar with the matter said. The person insisted on anonymity to discuss the plan ahead of an official announcement.

The changes would be another way in which Trump and Sessions are enacting a law-and-order agenda that views federal support of local police as a way to drive down violent crime.

National police organizations have long been pushing Trump to hold his promise to once again make the equipment available to local and state police departments, many of which see it as needed to ensure officers aren’t put in danger when responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks. An armored vehicle played a key role in the police response to the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

In 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to give surplus equipment to police to help fight drugs, which then gave way to the fight against terrorism.

Groups across the political spectrum have expressed concern about the militarization of police, arguing that the equipment encourages and escalates confrontations with officers. President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2015 that severely limited the surplus program, partly triggered by public outrage over the use of military gear when during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police responded in riot gear and deployed tear gas, dogs and armored vehicles. At times they also pointed assault rifles at protesters.

Obama’s order prohibited the federal government from providing grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, and firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or greater to police. As of December, the agency overseeing the program had recalled at least 100 grenade launchers, more than 1,600 bayonets and 126 tracked vehicles — those that run on continuous, tank-like tracks instead of wheels — that were provided through the program.

Trump vowed to rescind the executive order in a written response to a Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire that helped him win an endorsement from the organization of rank-and-file officers. He reiterated his promise during a gathering of police officers in July, saying the equipment still on the streets is being put to good use.

“In fact, that stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left,” Trump said.

The documents, first reported by USA Today, say Trump’s order would emphasize public safety over the appearance of the heavily equipment. They describe much of the gear as “defensive in nature” intended to protect officers from danger.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the expected move.

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.

“It is hard to imagine any situation where a grenade launcher or bayonet would be something that a major police department would need, but defensive shields and armored vehicles kept on reserve will be welcome,” he said.

Sessions has said he believes improving morale for local law enforcement is key to curbing spikes in violence in some cities. The plan to restore access to military equipment comes after Sessions has said he intends to pull back on court-enforceable improvement plans with troubled police departments, which he says can malign entire agencies and make officers less aggressive on the street. Consent decrees were a hallmark of the Obama administration’s efforts to overhaul certain agencies, sometimes after racially charged encounters like the one in Ferguson.


5 thoughts on “Trump prepares to lift limits on military gear for police

  1. How is a grenade launcher “defensive in nature?”
    You know what? I used to be a tax payer. That makes them grenade launchers mine. I paid for em.
    I’m gonna turn my truck into a Pig Plower, run their a$$es over, and take back my grenade launchers. That I paid for.
    Then, I’m gonna find me an armory that’s heavily unguarded and take back some more of the sh-t that I paid for.

  2. Of corse he did
    They need to get the party started

    What isn’t realized is, now we the people have this gear even closer to our possession

    Cops ain’t bright , before you know it
    We will be reading about a story where a pig left his trunk open or an entire van of this shit gets left behind ,for spoils of war know no boundaries

  3. Freedom of speech taking a hike and cops are getting more capability.
    Don’t be surprised if Trenches is gone soon.
    A clue will be that if you connect with an IP blocking protocol and all of a sudden you can’t connect but others can, the end of the party is one, maybe two days off. The jews ACLU is making its list and checking it twice.
    Sandy claws is coming to town.

  4. Everyone likes me and thinks I’m great In my safe space, my trump space…
    People don’t judge me and haters don’t hate In my safe space. Bully proof windows Troll safe doors
    Nothing but kindness in here. You might call me a pu*#y But I won’t hear you
    In my safe space. If you do not like me You are not allowed In my Trump space.
    Look and you will see There’s a very select crowd In my safe space. People that support me Mixed in with More people that support me And say nice things. Rainbows all around me, there is no shame in my safe space, my trump space…
    You can’t ruin our lives, reality. Our Trump space will keep you out. We can face almost anything, but reality we can do without.
    Bully Proof windows, Troll safe doors…

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