Trump Rolls Back Ban On Transfer Of Military Equipment To Law Enforcement Agencies
from the police-statesmanship dept
As part of his ongoing effort to reverse everything President Obama ever did, President Trump will be rolling back the previous administration’s 1033 program ban. The program allowed local law enforcement agencies to help themselves to Defense Department equipment — often paid for with federal grants — as long as they said the magic words (terrorism/drugs) on the application.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who led the campaign for the program’s reinstatement, outlined the President Trump’s new executive order Monday in an address at the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union.
The administration’s action, first disclosed by USA TODAY, would restore “the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense, along with restoring the full scope of grants used to purchase this type of equipment from other sources,” according to a administration summary of the new program recently circulated to some law enforcement groups.
“Assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be re-purposed to help state, local and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.”
Attorney General Sessions loves rolling things back. This will give police departments access to mine-resistant vehicles, grenade launchers, and firearms, which should “assist” them in fighting the Drug War 1980s-style and/or pitching in with ICE’s efforts to pitch migrants back over the wall Trump can’t seem to get built.
This is prime law-and-order stuff. Trump has made it clear law enforcement is on the right side of history. Everyone who doubts or criticizes cops is simply wrong. A ban put in place as a reaction to militarized police responses is being reversed because no one up top cares how police are perceived. AG Sessions has already killed off federal civil rights investigations of local law enforcement agencies. Now, police will find it easier than ever to dude up as war-fighters, rather than easily-identifiable public servants.
As Radley Balko pointed out on Twitter, Obama’s rollback didn’t put a huge dent in military gear acquisitions. But it did attempt to head off further development of law enforcement’s “us vs. them” mentality by making it a bit more difficult to look and act like an occupying force, rather than law enforcement agencies. Balko notes plenty of gear can still be obtained from other sources, like the DHS, state agencies, and donations. But the ultimate point of the ban was to reduce the gap between public servants and the people they serve — something explicitly noted by Obama’s law enforcement guidance task force.
The Task Force on 21st Century Policing, chaired by former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general, called on law enforcement officials to “minimize the appearance of a military operation” when policing mass demonstrations.
“Avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust,” the task force urged.
The previously-banned equipment also included tracked armored vehicles, bayonets and grenade launchers.
Trump’s ban reversal sends the opposite message. Combined with his public statements, proclamations, and executive orders, the future of policing will make cities and towns feel like occupied territory and turn citizens into civilians.