In another reversal from Obama White House policy, President Trump signed an executive order Monday eliminating limitations on the transfer of equipment from the military to state and local police departments.
Ahead of Trump revoking the two-year-old ban, in a speech to law enforcement officials in Nashville, Tenn., Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared the aim of the program was to ensure public safety.
“(President Trump) is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies’ ability to get equipment through federal programs, including life-saving gear like Kevlar vests and helmets and first responder and rescue equipment like what they’re using in Texas right now. These restrictions that had been imposed went too far. We will not put superficial concerns above public safety. We will do our best to get you what you need,” Sessions said in front of a local Fraternal Order of Police chapter.
Under the new policy, limitations on the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which has transferred over $5 billion in surplus equipment to law enforcement since 1990, will proceed immediately.
Enacted by former President Obama in 2015 amid a series of high-profile law enforcement reforms, the ban prohibited the transfer of tracked, armored vehicles, .50 caliber ammunition, rifles, camouflage uniforms, bayonets and grenade launchers.
Imposing the restrictions in 2015 against the backdrop of activists complaints local police departments were “militarized,” Mr. Obama said the police had resembled “an occupying force,”
Originally created in 1990, a majority of equipment delivered to state and local police departments through the 1033 program has been uniforms, cold weather clothing, head gear and has also included office material such a filing cabinets, desks and chairs.
Responding to Monday’s directive, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted his criticisms of Trump’s decision, saying the “militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm,” and warning that “Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security.”
[Roll Call] [RT America] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy TNS via Daily Mail]