The Obama administration is continuing in its efforts to cut down on use of military equipment in America’s law enforcement agencies. The goal is to simultaneously cut back on the excessive force that has at times devastated our nation’s communities, as opposed to making residents feel safe.
The New York Times reports that as recently as last month, police stations from San Bernadino, CA to Calhoun County, AL have gotten notices to forfeit their surplus military equipment that could be classified as unnecessary or misused. Items that were on the recall list included armored vehicles running on tracks, .50 caliber machine guns, grenade launchers, bayonets and camouflage clothing.
Though most agencies have followed suit, other areas that have recently seen mass shooting and other large waves of violence have pushed back against the measure. Opponents insist that such tools are important for areas with small budgets, search-and-rescue operations and confrontations with shooters.
One sheriff from Oakland County, MI voiced opponents’ concerns in being stripped of equipment that could be life saving in sudden attacks.
“This isn’t Mayberry, where a guy goes and locks himself in jail because he got drunk. There are guys who walk up to you and fire off 13 rounds in a couple of seconds.”
Obama spoke of his efforts to cut back on usage of military equipment last year in Camden, NJ, a predominantly Black neighborhood that is known as one of the poorest and most violent cities in America.
“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.”
The move to take away the equipment harkens back to cases like the 2014 protests in Ferguson, MO during which officers rode armed tanks, wore body gear and aimed semiautomatic rifles at protestors. There was another case from 2013 in which law enforcement made a bust on marijuana plant with masks and assault rifles.
Perhaps the most horrific case involves that of a 19-month-old infant that suffered a hole in the face and severe burns after being hit with a stun grenade in a playpen. The child was injured during a raid held by heavily armed police officers in Cornelia, GA.
[SOURCE: New York Times]