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.


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:59am

    Out of sight out of mind

    Politicians care more about how things look than about what is happening. It was bad in the days when people got bent out of shape when it was made clear that the thin veneer of the happy life in your town was nothing more than a charade. Now in the days of the Internet, trying to keep up appearances is not just silly but also dangerous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:03pm

    Does that man expect civil war, or does he hope to provoke one?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      C'mon. Be optimistic.

      Sure, during the campaign, Trump repeatedly urged the roughing up of protesters. You know, back when he was still expected to "act more presidential" once the primaries were over.

      And sure, a month ago he encouraged police to rough up suspects and not worry about injuring them. And followed it up by declaring that Nazis are "just a side." And now he's sending more military equipment to the police.

      That may seem bad, but I for one take the optimistic view: The President of the United States is a stupid, childish nutjob whose insecurity won't let him allow anything Obama did to stand. This is about rolling back another of Obama's executive orders.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:19pm

    It's part of his Schutzstaffel campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      It's part of his bigotry. He's probably frustrated he couldn't attend Charlottesville. And having a black president enacting stuff is a no-no, we must erase it from existence.

      The day he was elected was a sad day.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:22pm

    It seems to me that people have forgotten the difference between Nationalism and Patriotism. Patriotism is supporting what a country (supposedly) stands for, whereas Nationalism is supporting what a country actually does, whether that is in agreement with its ideals or not.

    i.e. "Dissent is patriotic" vs "Support the President no matter what."

    "Law and Order" is at a similar crossroads right now. The Order part can be easy, but you have to erode the foundations of the Law to do it that way. The harder, long-term way to support Order (peace and stability) is to increase respect for the Law. The President is taking shortcuts here, at the expense of the citizenry.

    If one wanted to actually restore Law and Order (in a literal sense) they must first restore Order to the Law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew M Bennett, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:37pm

    It's a lot more accurate to say that Sessions is doing this, and I wish your headline reflected that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:56pm

    I will never understand those who fear Democrats abusing state power but cheer on this authoritarianism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      radix (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:19pm

      Re:

      It kind of funny how the stereotype of the left is one of absolute trust in government, but also more distrustful of the very representatives of that power, while the right is more distrustful of government, unless they are carrying a gun (police and military).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:09pm

      That goes both ways.

      > I will never understand those who fear Democrats abusing state power but cheer on this authoritarianism.

      s/Democrats/Republicans/g

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:57pm

    Part of the restrictions put in place by Obama included a ban on camoflauge and the requirement that police paint vehicles with a non-military color. These restrictions existed, in part, so police officers could change their mindset from “soldiers in a war zone” to something far less militaristic.

    Trump reversed these restrictions because Obama put them in place, that much I know. What worries me: He might have done it for a far more sinister reason—even if he believes turning police departments into paramilitary groups is what the United States “needs” to preserve “law and order”.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:54pm

      Re:

      Of course he did it for a more sinister purpose. Trump is merely a manifestation of a decades-long social trend; the rich are declaring war against the poor.

      The Middle-class will either join them or get kicked down in the dirt with the plebs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:19pm

        Re: Re:

        The rich can only get richer by making those below them poorer, or by making some of the rich poorer. Which option do you think the rich will choose?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:09pm

    If Antifa with their Marxist wishes grows, maybe it is what the US needs to preserve "law and order".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:10pm

    so uhh... what is the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act vs giving Milspec equipment to law enforcement? I mean, could it be reasonably construed as to enlisting law enforcement as Military in order to enforce domestic policy?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:13pm

      Mispec? That's funny.

      The funny thing is that most stuff that's been depicted in pictures decrying this policy are stuff that you could buy yourself from US Cav or your local gun show.

      You're probably better off with the equipment that is NOT milspec. Most of the civilian stuff is better. Even actual soldiers and marines buy the better civilian stuff when necessary (and possible).

      Even Cher was getting in on this act at one point.

      It's not just "bad optics". It's unnecessary.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:19pm

    Posse Comitatus Act

    The National Defense Reauthorization Act of 2012 did away with the Posse Comitatus Act allowing the use of the military against us for terrorism reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:28pm

    What was banned?

    .50 cal. weapons. The police were not getting machine guns, but .50 caliber anti-sniper rifles. Sniper scopes (which make shooting more accurate, we want less accurate shooting? Bayonets, which the military doesn't use anymore. Grenade launchers, which police use to shoot tear gas/smoke. Camouflage utilities, which I guess look much worse than black uniforms.

    I guess the optics look bad, but the issue is not what cops carry but what they do with them. Then again, politicians always look to do things that look good but don't really do anything.

    Banning military equipment won't make anything better if cops still have the mindset that they can do anything they want and the use of overwhelming force is the 1st thing they think of.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      According to coverage I heard on the radio today (NPR), of the various things banned from sale to police forces under the now-rescinded order, there were only three which any police force had ever purchased under that program:

      * Tracked vehicles - i.e., tanks and tank-style armored personnel carriers, et cetera.

      * Grenade launchers.

      * Bayonets.

      The other things which were banned by the order reportedly included things like armed aircraft, but also reportedly no police force in America had ever obtained such a thing through the 1033 program. Other things - such as camouflage gear - reportedly were not covered by the prohibition.

      If that's not the case, I'd be interested to see citations, if only so that I can be sure I understand the facts accurately.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tin-foil-hat, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:08pm

    The law is for thee

    The way Trump's tough on crime policy works. Laws that he doesn't approve of won't be enforced or punished. Everyone else will be punished to the full extent of the law for any transgression and then some. It's been that way for decades with minor ebbs and flows along the way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:43am

      Re: The law is for thee

      And Obama's crime policy was the exact same thing. The things he didn't want enforced didn't get enforced. Same with Bush, same with Clinton.

      That is the problem with allowing presidents to do this, yeah, it is great when your guy or gal is in the White House, but when the elections turn, you get something you really don't like.

      Too bad, the law of the land should be the law of the land. If you don't like the law, work to change it, ignoring it doesn't work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:13pm

    Contractor police

    How long until we have Blackwater types fulfilling local policing roles with full-on military equipment and no accountability? (Putting aside all manner of comments about current police accountability).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:57pm

      Re: Contractor police

      ...Within my lifetime (I'm 29).

      Don't complain, this is the future you chose.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 30 Aug 2017 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re: Contractor police

        Indeed. This is what the Great God Market will provide. Haven't you heard? Private enterprise is more efficient. If government ruins everything it touches, why put it in charge of protecting property and enforcing the law?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:44pm

    Combat Patrol in Podunk USA

    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.

    How does the US governments 1033 program (ie military gear for local police) benefit the average citizen?

    What need is there for local police departments to be issued military weapons, military comm-gear (eg Stingray/DRT box) and armored personal carriers?

    If the local police would like to play army they can enlist in the military.

    Police officers should reflect the community they patrol and thus be attired appropriately as professional law enforcement officers not geared up as soldiers on combat patrol militarily occupying a foreign nation in constant fear for their lives with itchy trigger-fingers.

    When you dress like a police officer you act like a police officer.

    When you dress like a soldier on combat patrol you act like a soldier on combat patrol.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Talmyr, 30 Aug 2017 @ 8:47am

      Re: Combat Patrol in Podunk USA

      Just ask the British Army and ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary how much fun it wasn't to have the two mixed together in Northern Ireland.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:56pm

    At least some military trucks can handle 4' deep water in Houston

    Love those high intake & exhaust ports!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:46pm

    Fhew!

    I was worried for a while that OCP wouldn't be able to give us Robocop...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:35pm

    The problem is not the equipment. It is how the local organizations use it. If it is used for rescue, think Houston TX, then it is good. If it is used to create a military police army, then it is bad. We the people need to visit our city council meetings and ask questions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 28 Aug 2017 @ 8:45pm

    Wonder how long before Trump declares Martial Law. Many of his steps are just what I would do if I were trying to become dictator, however foundering the attempt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:02pm

    You guys are hilarious. Seriously.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 1:20am

    " the future of policing will make cities and towns feel like occupied territory and turn citizens into civilians."

    Would you like to know more?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:17pm

      Where have you been?

      You say that like the black man didn't feel that way long before the Obama administration. The new "optics" only make it more obvious to those who are outsiders to the situation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:04am

    I would imagine there are residents in certain parts of Chicago wouldn't mind having more of a police presence, a heavily armed presence.

    You can stay in your gated community with your private police and feel safe, but there are places that really depend on the police, not that you keyboard justice warriors would know about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:26am

    The problem isn't military equipment in the hands of police, it is the improper use of the military equipment.

    Just follow the fucking Constitution. I am conservative, but if the Constitution is followed, everything works.

    That means cops have to stop fucking up with minorities. That means the NSA/FBI/LEO's have to stop their illegal surveillance.

    That means that antifa is prosecuted for their actions (although if you start following the Constitution I think they start to go away.

    That means that bigots stop illegal activities.

    We have a document that is sort of old, but if followed, stops a lot of problems. Why don't we try that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:43pm

      Re:

      That means cops have to stop fucking up with minorities. That means the NSA/FBI/LEO's have to stop their illegal surveillance.

      And what happens when the above doesn't happen? Are the "liberals", the "gated", the "keyboard warriors" still to blame as you are doing so?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 30 Aug 2017 @ 5:48am

      Re:

      _That means that antifa is prosecuted for their actions (although if you start following the Constitution I think they start to go away._

      Ah, you get it. Good.

      RE: gated communities, few of us can afford to live in those. The truth is, we fear those LEOs who abuse the power we've given them to protect and to serve us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    shane (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 8:07pm

    Right to Keep and Bear Arms

    Always hilarious to hear liberals whining about police having guns too.

    I wait patiently for liberals to discover the Feds abuse their guns as well.

    This is why we ALL need the right to keep and bear all weapons. Of course our police have the right. They are closer to the people than the Feds after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 6:10am

      Re: Right to Keep and Bear Arms

      Always hilarious to hear liberals whining about police having guns too.

      Always hilarious to see conservatives not understanding that their little pop guns won't be worth a shit when facing a police force armed with military-grade weapons.

      Then again, you are the party of the uneducated.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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