Just an hour ago, Obama called for a halt to police obtaining military weapons.
President Obama has started his campaign against police brutality in response to the United Nations sanctions that took place last week, and his first step is to curb police access to military style weapons. In a series of rules that were just announced today in a long-awaited response to the protests in Ferguson, as well as many other police responses, Obama is prohibiting the federal government from providing select military-style equipment to local police. Other military-style weapons and vehicles are having their access limited, with requirements that police forces first explain in detail why they're needed, obtain approval from the local mayor or other governing body, adopt basic policing standards, and agree to collect data about their use, according to The New York Times.
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Banned items include "tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, and large-caliber firearms." Controlled items include "armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear, and specialized firearms and ammunition." There is still access to some military style weapons, including those that are used for riot control - which the White House deems as necessary.
"The idea is to make sure that we strike a balance in providing the equipment, which is appropriate and useful and important for local law enforcement agencies to keep the community safe, while at the same time putting standards in place," says Cecilia Muñoz, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council. She also said that the rules have been in development since January.
This new set of rules came from the Justice Department, the Department of Defense, and Homeland Security. Regarding the prohibited equipment list, the group writes, "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."
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The hope is that not only will this hinder some police brutality, but it will also create a clearer set of rules to determine what weapons are appropriate. The stipulations will also include police training and courses both in person and online. The measures are also calling for more written records.