The Obama Administration’s move to ban local police departments from using federal funds to purchase military-style weaponry, the New York Times reports, will come in tandem with a report completed by a policing task force assembled late last year following the civil unrest and “militarized” police response in Ferguson, Mo.
In previewing the president’s trip, the White House said that effective immediately, the federal government will no longer fund or provide armored vehicles that run on a tracked system instead of wheels, weaponized aircraft or vehicles, firearms or ammunition of .50-caliber or higher, grenade launchers, bayonets or camouflage uniforms. The federal government also is exploring ways to recall prohibited equipment already distributed.
Additionally, some equipment and weapons, “including wheeled armored vehicles like Humvees, manned aircraft, drones, specialized firearms, explosives, battering rams and riot batons, helmets, and shields” will be “under tighter control.”
Local police forces have been steadily upping their inventories of assault weapons after 9/11 through grants and transfers from federal agencies, namely through the 1033 Program. From the Washington Post:
One of the ways police departments have armed themselves in recent years is through the Defense Department’s excess property program, known as the 1033 Program. That program has transferred more than $4.3 billion in equipment since its inception in 1997. In 2013 alone it gave nearly half a billion dollars worth of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, according to the program’s Web site.
According to the 116-page report by the policing task force to be released Monday, the weapons banned posed “the substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items, which are seen as militaristic in nature, could significantly undermine community trust and may encourage tactics and behaviors that are inconsistent with the premise of civilian law enforcement.”
About $75 million, the Post reports, has also been earmarked for use across the next three years to buy 50,000 body cameras for police officers.