Feds: No more bayonets, other military equipment for local cops

Posted at 2:57 PM, May 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-18 14:57:37-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Obama administration plans to prohibit federal agencies from providing to local cops certain kinds of military equipment such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and bayonets, in the wake of controversy over a “militarized” police response to unrest last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The new prohibitions are part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued for federal agencies to review the types of equipment they provide to local and state police.

Obama plans to travel Monday to Camden, N.J., to highlight crime reduction and community policing tactics that the administration hopes can be a model around the country. A spate of officer-involved shootings and the deaths of African-Americans in confrontations with police has made policing an issue the administration is forced to grapple with.

Agencies including the Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security departments help provide equipment to local police.

The banned list includes: tank-like armored vehicles that move on tracks, certain types of camouflage uniforms, bayonets, firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, grenade launchers, and weaponized aircraft.

The presidential order will establish a “controlled equipment” list, with tightened requirements before federal agencies can transfer equipment to local cops. These will include riot control equipments and drones. Federal agencies will also require local police to provide more data so the government can better track equipment.

Local police can still bypass the federal restrictions and bans by buying the equipment from private sellers.

The President will visit the Camden Police Department where he will tour a tactical operation center, as well as meet with officers and young people from the community, according to Eric Schultz, Deputy Press Secretary.

On a conference call with reporters Sunday, Valerie Jarett, President Obama’s senior advisor, said the President chose to visit Camden because its implementation of initiatives have already proven to help the once deeply troubled city.

“There is still work to be done in Camden and across the country,” Jarett said. “It’s more important than ever that communities look inward to build.”

In December Obama signed an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to determine ways to strengthen public trust and better relationships between local law enforcement and communities.

The President, who has been vocal on the issue since unrest was seen following police incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, will highlight how communities such as Camden are adopting recommendations made by a White House Task Force examining 21st Century Policing.

The Task Force released its final report Monday with a “blue print” for law enforcement and communities to utilize including recommendations of how to promote trust within the community, such as police embracing “a guardian- rather than a warrior” mindset to build legitimacy. Other recommendations include creating a diverse police workforce, implementing policies that reflect community values and better training for officers.

Earlier this month Obama announced a spin-off of his already-existing “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative into a new, non-profit foundation to address the lack of opportunity that young minority boys face.

At the announcement of the initiative, President Obama said that blacks were getting pulled over by cops for “no reason”, which has since angered some members of the law enforcement community.