President Bans Some Military Equipment Sales to Police
President Obama announced on May 18th that the federal government would cease the flow of certain types of equipment to police departments following the recommendations of a multi-agency working group on the subject.
President Obama announced on May 18th, 2015 that the federal government would cease the flow of certain types of equipment to police departments through the federal surplus programs. The announcement follows one of several recommendations made by a multi-agency federal working group tasked with reviewing what could have been done different or better following the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
Specifically, the program would no longer allow for tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, and large-caliber weapons and ammunition to flow through these programs to police departments. The programs would still be allowed to still provide aircraft, wheeled tactical vehicles, mobile command centers, battering rams, and riot gear. This equipment would be provided to departments who meet national policing standards and agree to not transfer or sell the equipment unless they receive approval from the federal government.
Though they have not been fully written, other recommendations made by the working group will go into effect with the new fiscal year on October 1st. The thing agencies should be aware and ready to work with is that the programs will now require that agencies adopt “robust and specific written policies and protocols covering not just the use of the federal equipment, but their policing practices in general.”
Though many might think this is a sudden and new idea of limiting the flow of military surplus to police departments and other law enforcement agencies, many states have been looking at ways to control what type of equipment their law enforcement agencies would be allowed to obtain through the federal surplus programs. (Read our prior post about control measures the states are looking at here)
Emergency Managers and Law Enforcement Planners should be aware of these federal recommendations and state control measures as they are implemented. I estimate that we will start seeing these rules start going out in draft format later this summer ahead of the fiscal year. Most importantly though, it might be a wise decision to sit down with the agency’s legal counsel to lean forward and assess the potential impact these control measures will have on your agency’s plans, protocols, and overall operating procedures.
Read USA Today’s Full Article here.
Read our article on state’s actions to control surplus military equipment sales here.