The epidemic of police violence has reached a tipping point in this country. Between some questionable police actions that have led to the deaths of an unknown number of people, to some high profile police killings leading to protests and even riots in some cities, the situation is starting to resemble less a police problem with citizens and more a civil war between civilians and cops. President Obama has taken notice of the problem and is starting to address some of the root causes.
One of those root causes is the militarization of police forces. It seems that by giving police military equipment, they start to act more like military troops, except without the training. Of course, even if they had proper military training, that seems as if it would be highly inappropriate for a civil servant, but that’s another topic. Either way, as of May 18, the federal government will no longer provide many types of military grade equipment to police forces around the nation unless they can prove that they have an actual need for it.
Items no longer available to police departments on the federal government’s dime will include bayonets, weapons and ammo exceeding .50 caliber, grenade launchers, certain types of armored vehicles, and some types of uniforms and gear. Other items that will still be available if a compelling interest can be proven will include some types of tactical vehicles, riot gear, and explosives.
“The idea is to make sure we strike the right balance of providing equipment that is appropriate and important,” said White House Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Munoz, “while at the same time put standards in place that give a clear reason for the transfer of that equipment, with clear training and safety provisions in place.”
Despite what you may have read on other sites, the president is not “banning” the equipment. For some reason, it seems that by not giving somebody something for free it amounts to a ban now, at least to headlines from such illustrious institutions as the Washington Post and Huffington Post. What this action actually does is stop them from getting the items in question for free from the federal government.
Perhaps returning the responsibility of providing equipment for police forces back to more local levels will lead to cops having more accountability to the people in the area they actually are serving. At any rate, it will certainly reduce the amount of high level military grade equipment they have.