In an attempt to rein in the reckless federal transferral of military equipment to local police forces, the president made a “surprise announcement” Monday ordering that certain gear stop being provided to local police departments, which were starting to look like “occupying forces.” Although Obama did not ban all items on the list of gear being given to officers, the act is being viewed as a “symbolic” change.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Speaking to a crowd in Camden, N.J., Obama contended that the heavy use of war zone equipment gives people the wrong impression about the role of police and fuels a sense of fear and anger.

“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 handover of 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 American Civil Liberties Union applauded the new rules as “a critical step towards rebuilding trust between police and the people they have pledged to serve,” and it urged Congress to enact them into law.

Read more.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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