by Mark Angelides
When Barack Obama first called for a ban on police departments being able to use surplus military equipment three years ago, it was a knee jerk reaction to the Ferguson, Missouri riots. It was a bad policy that President Trump may be about to repeal.
After the police used military equipment to quell riots in Ferguson, for Obama, it was all about public relations. He wanted to appear to be doing something that would “speak for” black folk, whilst at the same time chastise the police for essentially doing their jobs. He even said as much:
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like they’re an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said in announcing the ban in 2015. And he said the use of this gear created a deepening a divide between law enforcement and a wary community.
Nowhere was there a mention of a solid reason other than people’s feelings for implementing the ban. The initial that was built on came through Congress almost 30 years ago as a measure for police dealing with rising and violent drug crime. The “1033 program” was, according to USA Today, “ expanded in 1997 to include all local law enforcement operations, including counter-terrorism. Since then, according to the government, more than $5 billion in gear has been transferred to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.”
“Much of the equipment provided through the 1033 program is entirely defensive in nature … that protect officers in active shooter scenarios and other dangerous situations,” the Trump administration proposal says.
The reality is that Trump is right in this. The criminals and “activists” can get hold of ex-military equipment illegally, and they do. With the current Antifa and BLM anger towards the police (consider the horrific shooting of officers), the police departments need proper gear to protect themselves. A standard bullet proof vest is fine against a “Saturday night special”, but that is not what is out on the streets nowadays. There are high powered rifles, explosives, and Hi-Tec gear that standard police issue gear is not built to deal with.
When criminals have access to better equipment than the police, it puts all of us in danger.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is due to meet with the Fraternal Order of Police today and may outline exactly how this will roll out.
by Mark Angelides