Going back to my days covering the US primaries and elections as a ghostwriter, I have always been particularly concerned over Donald Trumps rhetoric surrounding a future override of President Obama’s Executive Order halting the sale of excess military gear to local police departments around the country. Admittedly, with all of the chaos surrounding the actions of the US Government these days I had completely forgotten about this issue, but it does not mean it has gone away.
As first reported by US Today on Sunday, August 27th 2017, “The Trump administration is preparing to lift a controversial ban on the transfer of some surplus military equipment to police departments.” Adding that according to leaked documents obtained by the agency, “The new plan would roll back an Obama administration executive order that blocked armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, ammunition and other heavy equipment from being re-purposed from foreign battlefields to America’s streets.”
Though the US Department of Justice refused to initially comment on the matter, it is expected that Jeff Sessions could make an announcement as early as Monday, August 28th 2017, officially confirming the policy shift.
BREAKING: Trump administration prepares to lift limits on providing surplus military equipment to local police. https://t.co/TGqca3B8zq
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 27, 2017
Dating as far back as August 22nd 2016, Donald Trump has long since promised to repeal President Obama’s Executive Order banning the sale of military gear and equipment to US police departments. This is when, in a speech in Ohio, then candidate Trump told a crowd of his followers that Obama’s treatment of the police was “ridiculous” and that if he was elected President, he would “make it easier for police to get the gear they need” and “add more police officers” to the National police force. This is also a sentiment he expressed multiple times going forward throughout the Republican primaries and on into debates with Hillary Clinton, whom promised to uphold Obama’s orders if she was elected.
The political issue as it exists today goes back a couple years, after President Obama decided to cut off local police departments from obtaining military surplus equipment following the treatment of “protestors” during the Ferguson, Missouri riots of 2014. Truth be told though, the controversy surrounding the phenomenon of police militarization goes back much further than this.
Brief History of Police Militarization
The origins of “police militarization” and the moral debate surrounding it can really be traced back to President Nixon in 1971, after he infamously declared a Federal War on Drugs – which continues on to this day. Essentially, in order to grapple with the mafia, drug lords and drug cartels, police agencies around the country began arming themselves more heavily, to ensure that the would never be outgunned or outmatched when an incident presented itself.
It wasn’t until 1997 however, under the orders of Bill Clinton, that the US military began directly funding local police departments for the first. This is when a Federal initiative known as “Program 1033” first began. Under this program, the United States Department of Defense is given leeway to equip local police departments with excess military gear that is no longer in use, often times at no cost to the police departments themselves.
Read More About Program 1033 Here: https://justnet.org/resources/Excess-Federal-Property.html
It is estimated that between 1997 and 2015, the United States Department of Defense equipped local police departments throughout the United States with over 5,000 armored Humvee’s and more than 600 MRAP’s. None of this is to mention other equipment, such as military apparel, guns, ammunition and other weapons. Additionally, as reported by the Washington Post, “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 — ” have been recalled by the US Federal Government from US police departments since Obama’s orders first went into place.
Just so you understand exactly what is being repealed here, Obama’s Executive Order specifically “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.” This means that under Donald Trumps guidance, this is the type of gear that active duty police departments around the country will now freely be receiving.
Do local police departments really need armored vehicles, grenade launchers and .50 caliber machine guns? I can’t imagine any reasonable or sane of mind person whom would actually think they do, but as we are reminded every day, we are living in one crazy world.