Obama restricts police use of military equipment

President Obama will ban the sale of certain military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. The ban comes in the wake of riots and public unrest following the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. During the Ferguson, Mo. riots especially, local police received harsh criticism. Many felt that the police tactics for maintaining order were overly violent and almost paramilitary in nature.

The details of the new measure were released ahead of President Obama’s scheduled speech.

Mr. Obama planned to promote the effort on Monday during a visit to Camden, N.J. The city, racked by poverty and crime, has become a national model for better relations between the police and citizens after replacing its beleaguered police force with a county-run system that prioritizes community ties.

A report by Obama’s police task force will also be released today. The task force was formed by Executive Order in December 2014.

The separate report from the 21st Century Policing task force has a long list of recommendations to improve trust in police, including encouraging more transparency about interactions with the public. The White House said 21 police agencies nationwide, including Camden and nearby Philadelphia, have agreed to start putting out never-before released data on citizen interactions like use of force, stops, citations and shootings by officer.

The ban will go into effect immediately. The list of banned equipment includes grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and tracked armored vehicles. Other equipment such as battering rams, riot gear and wheeled tactical vehicles will not be prohibited, but local law enforcement agencies will have to demonstrate why they need that specific gear.

 

[New York Times] [Al Jazeera America] [USA Today] [Image via Getty]