President Obama has issued an order restricting the federal government from distributing certain military equipment to local law enforcement agencies across the country. The announcement was made in Camden, New Jersey, a city that has embraced the president’s community policing movement. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”
But while the change stops the government from handing over some equipment, including weaponized aircraft, bayonets, grenade launchers and armored vehicles that run on tracks, it still allows police departments to acquire riot gear, specialized firearms and armored trucks with tires, as long as they get training and special permission from local authorities.
The article also notes that:
Police departments in Maryland have received more than $12 million in excess equipment from the Defense Department’s Excess Property Program since 2006.
Items include a $400,000 “mine-resistant vehicle,” more than 2,000 assault rifles, 873 semiautomatic handguns and 220 12-gauge shotguns, according to Pentagon data.
Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake welcomed the announcement and mentioned local efforts of reform:
“Both cities struggle with violent crime and the need for more economic opportunity,” she said. “However, both cities have also shown proactive commitment to building trust between the community and the police.
“Like Camden, we have made reforms that put more officers on the street during peak periods of time. We’ve also accepted the My Brother’s Keeper community challenge, and our city is aggressively moving forward with reforms outlined in the task force recommendations, such as police body cameras.”
For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.