White House conducting review of military equipment being sent to police forces
White House to review military equipment being sent to police
After massive riots in Ferguson and Police wearing and using military equipment, The White House is weighing whether the federal government should continue to arm local police departments. The review will consider whether the government should continue to provide military grade equipment and if whether local police have sufficient training to use the equipment. The government will also consider whether it is keeping a close enough watch on equipment inventories, and how the weapons and other gear are used.
. “The whole country and every representative and senator have seen the visuals, and at some level, it made all of us uncomfortable.” Senator McCaskill (D)
America saw the equipment being used against the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, when police officers launched tear gas at protestors and officers rode military-grade vehicles. “The whole country and every representative and senator have seen the visuals, and at some level, it made all of us uncomfortable,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who will lead a hearing in September into police use of military-style equipment. “It’s a moment where we can take a timeout and look at these policies.”
Changes in this regular tradition would change the role of the local police. After the 9/11 attacks local police were seen as the front line defenders for America in the “War on Terror.” The agency responsible for transferring the equipment to the police forces across the country known as The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has put the total value of equipment transferred at $5.1 billion dollars; this includes weapons, vehicles, clothing, helicopters, and boats. According to top law enforcement officials, only 5% of the equipment is weapons.
Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying “this equipment flowed to local police forces because they were increasingly being asked to assist in counterterrorism.” But he also said that “displays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive,” and so “it makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby released a statement saying Secretary Chuck Hagel is “keeping an open mind” about the program, said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. “He shares the president’s concerns about any blurring of lines between the military and local law enforcement, of course, certainly, as that concern could lead to the use of military equipment.” Kirby mentioned that most equipment transferred doesn’t include weapons or vehicles. Democrats and Libertarians have come together for an end to NSA’s infringing on civil rights.
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