September 13, 2017, by Sam Bocetta – On August 21st, President Donald J. Trump lifted a divisive ban on the transference of select surplus military gear to local police departments.
The ban, which was enforced three years ago after cops reacted to rioting in Ferguson, Missouri with armored trucks, tear gas and assault rifles, sought to restrict police units from purchasing large-caliber firearms, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, bayonets, camo uniforms and other tactical weaponry.
This equipment and others were to be put on a “controlled equipment list” that also included vital police gear such as battering rams and mobile command-and-control units. This stirred much debate among civilians and bureaucrats alike with many people arguing that the ban would prevent law enforcement from properly executing their jobs—protecting the public and keeping the peace.
Now that President Trump has rolled back the Obama administration’s ban of the 1033 program, US police forces will be able to once again procure large-caliber ammo, armored vehicles and other tactical equipment from military parties.
In an address to the Fraternal Order of Police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained the thinking behind the President’s new executive order. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety,” he said. Adding, “All you need to do is turn on a TV right now to see that for Houstonians this isn’t about appearances, it’s about getting the job done and getting everyone to safety.”
Sessions was referring to former-President Obama’s reasoning behind the initial ban. At the time, Obama had justified the ban by saying, “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’s argument was that military gear could “alienate and intimidate local residents and may send the wrong message.”
But several police organizations have deemed this gear necessary for protecting law enforcement officers against terrorists and other active shooters.
A summary of Trump’s new plan suggests that the current administration endeavors to 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.”
Trump’s executive order couldn’t have come at a better time given the current state of affairs. There has been growing unrest in multiple US states in recent days. Civil disobedience quickly deteriorates into anarchy and violence.
On September 11th, eight people were fatally shot at a Plano, Texas football watch party. And with reports placing the body count at 492 in terms of police shootings, there is a target on the back of anyone wearing the badge.
As Hurricane Irma has shown us, the public can wreak havoc as easily as they can reach out to help someone. With a rash of lootings and prison escapes spreading across the State of Florida, it is imperative that law enforcement have the right tools at their disposal to restore law and order.
In such unruly environments, all police officers should be properly outfitted with eye protection and ear protection in addition to more heavy duty materials. Trump’s rescinding of Obama’s ban will enable our boys in blue to do just that.
Both civilians and law enforcement will now be able to get their hands on certified military-grade eye and ear protection as well as tougher, more durable handguns, such as the combat pistols and tactical military sidearms manufactured by Glock, and assault rifles for tactical applications.
The new executive order will also ensure that law enforcement officers have access to all the military-grade magazines and ammo they need for controlling large-scale, high-pressure situations.
Former-NYPD Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik recently wrote a glowing endorsement of Trump’s decision for Time.com, saying, “In instances where the needs of public safety exceed the ability of the local jurisdiction to appropriate, federal assistance is a valued and appreciated resource.
“The federal government is not using the 1033 program to force law enforcement agencies to take military-grade weapons and equipment. They are not showing up at the doorstep of your local sheriff’s office and dropping off tanks and assault rifles unsolicited. All of the equipment transfers are at the request of the local agency.
“And it is here that the accountability for the storage, display and use of the equipment belongs. If there is a singular place to look to for responsibility when it comes to police militarization, it absolutely is at the local level.”
Kerik goes onto say that the 1033 program is one of the “least intrusive” programs among those in place at a federal level. He also points out that it alleviates the monetary burden of acquisition thanks to the utilization of taxpayer-funded gear.
The National Sheriffs’ Association has also gotten behind Trump’s executive order with association president Harold Eavenson issuing a statement that reads, “The equipment sheriffs receive through this program includes equipment they could not otherwise afford including additional bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets, upgraded safety equipment, as well as larger equipment such as helicopters and robotics.
“By reinstating this program the President will provide more resources to local law enforcement to keep their communities safe without any additional cost to the tax-payer.”
Of course, not everyone is ecstatic about the President lifting the ban. Folks on social media have been especially critical of the decision with one person saying that they’re “just waiting for martial law” and another person imagining that Trump would use it to go after sanctuary cities.
Others suggested that a large enough police presence with para-military force could result in street gangs putting their differences aside and banding together to attack a common enemy (,i.e. the police). And it’s not just the public that have weighed in on the issue.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released a statement in which they called Trump’s rollback of the ban “exceptionally dangerous and irresponsible.”
But not everyone has taken such a hardline stance. On the contrary, most sensible experts have been rather neutral on the subject. Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State, had this to say: “This process isn’t necessarily good or bad, but depends on the extent to which the more militaristic role fits the situation.”
Regardless of where you stand on the subject, one thing should be evident to everyone—the country is in terrible shape and things are spiraling out of control. In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, conditions are becoming increasingly unmanageable. For safety and security’s sake, police access to military gear is imperative at this time.