Militarization of Police

Obama Administration to End Some Military Equipment Transfers to Police

Grenade launchers are out, but police will still be able to get armored vehicles.


It's okay. They'll have to fill out an additional form to get one of these from now on.
Credit: Seluryar / photo on flickr

What do you know? President Barack Obama actually does care about police militarization.

Last year, following the outrage over the militarized police response by protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama Administration put together a task force. This task force was to examine police policies across the country and come up with recommendations to address that many folks are unhappy with the increasingly volatile and explosive power given to law enforcement.

When some of the initial reports came out, I dinged the administration for failing to truly engage in the problem that it's the federal government providing all this militarized equipment for law enforcement agencies. The initial reports call for more oversight of the federal programs but failed to call for any scaling back of the transfer of armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other surplus military weaponry to law enforcement agencies.

Today, that changed. A new set of recommendations requested by the president will end the transfer of certain types of military equipment to law enforcement agencies and restrain some others.

Here's what will now be forbidden (and this is going to be taking place immediately once the president accepts this new report): tracked armored vehicles, any weaponized vehicles or aircraft, bayonets, grenade launchers, large caliber weapons and ammunition (greater than .50-caliber), and camouflage uniforms.

Note what is not on the forbidden list: wheeled armored vehicles, like those familiar Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks and other military vehicles. They will be on the "controlled equipment list." Law enforcement agencies (other than those who solely serve schools) will be able to get these vehicles and other types of military equipment, but the agencies will have to "take additional steps to acquire this equipment, including the submission of a detailed justification outlining their need for procuring the equipment." In other words: another layer of bureaucracy.

And of course, the new report calls for more training and a federal bribe to the tune of $163 million in grants to try to get law enforcement agencies on board.

What else is interesting is that the president will be announcing all this today at a visit to Camden, New Jersey, where he'll be talking about how reforms to the police department there has improved its relationship with the community. From USA Today:

Obama previewed Monday's speech in his weekly radio address Saturday, saying he chose the New Jersey city because of the progress it's already made.

"I'll highlight some of the innovative things they've done to help police do their jobs more safely and reduce crime in the process," Obama said. "And I'll highlight steps all cities can take to maintain trust between the brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line, and the communities they're sworn to serve and protect."

Apparently Camden County Chief Scott Thomson gave testimony on improving community-based policing for these reports. Note, he's the county chief, not the police chief for the City of Camden. That's because the City of Camden dumped its expensive, ineffective unionized police force and contracted out with non-union county protection in 2012. The change actually increased the number of officers working the streets and, as Ed Krayewski noted in 2013, led to a significant drop in crime. But I wouldn't expect Obama to be calling out police unions as the problem.

Read the full report here. (pdf)

Also, just because Obama is going to set up these new procedures absolutely does not mean members of Congress don't need to pass legislation making the transfer bans a formal law. Executive policies like this can be undone later on, quietly, without nearly as much public attention.

NEXT: Lindsey Graham Running for President, Because He Thinks 'the world is falling apart'

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  1. …large caliber weapons and ammunition (greater than .50-caliber)…

    Obama just loves scaring the market into jacking up prices on ammunition with threats of shortages.

  2. I just checked with Miss Cleo, Obama is not going to do an executive order selling the new backlog of gear to civilians.

    1. Needs it to fill the Fast & Furious pipeline.

  3. Obama Administration to End Some Military Equipment Transfers to Police

    Going by his past announcement mendacity, I can only conclude that he’s ramping up the program.

  4. Knowing what we know about this administration, this probably means he’s switching the delivery method.

    1. Or sending them all to Federal Agencies.

      1. National Parks Service, just in case there is another “shutdown.”

      2. IMO the fed lea’s are the larger problem anyways. They have been out of control at least since the Clinton administration.

        1. The supply side of the equation hasn’t exactly been under the tightest of reigns for several administrations either.

    2. It doesn’t do anything. He asked the cops. What don’t you really need? That is the list they provided.

      1. Right, then spin it as a gift. I so love politicians.

    3. Make the program classified, then claim it doesn’t exist.

  5. Obama to Police – Buy new, not used.

  6. “If you like your grenade launcher, you can keep your grenade launcher.”

  7. “tracked armored vehicles, any weaponized vehicles or aircraft, bayonets, grenade launchers, large caliber weapons and ammunition (greater than .50-caliber), and camouflage uniforms”

    So basically just the armoured verticals which they can’t afford to maintain anyways and camo which I’m sure they buy new. Bayonets? Really. Greater than .50 cal? Like what? 20mm? Like they could use anything larger than .50. Grenade launchers? They don’t use the 40 mm launchers used for actual grenades that the military does. How about no more full auto or 3 round burst? Didn’t think so.

    1. Although in a shtf scenerio it will be nice to have those things available from a “soft” target.

  8. Huh. Must be secretly supplying large city police departments with small tactical nukes.

    1. Nonsense, ProL, that’s covered under “Urban Renewal”.

      1. Broken windows in bulk.

        1. provides fast, Fast, FAST relief, too.

  9. A new set of recommendations requested by the president will end the transfer of certain types of military equipment to law enforcement agencies

    And they have to return the equipment of those types they already have, right? *Right*?!

    Also, “recommendations requested by the president”, although too long to be a nice band name, is pretty funny.

  10. I’m sure Obama, like me, is far more afraid of regular White people with guns oppressing his race than he is of the police.

    1. Biker Gangs.
      That’s today’s Flavor of Fear.

    2. Huh?

      ‘regular White people’ as in his electorate? ‘regular White people’ as distinct from ‘regular White officers’? ‘regular White people’ as an overarching description of ‘gun-owning, law-abiding people of non-distinct caucasian racial description’?

      This seems like a poorly framed attempt to inject race into a non-racial issue or blur a right to police oppressively with a right to bear arms.

      1. He’s trying to be clever. Surprise, he failed, but that’s nothing new.

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  12. When I talk about the “pussification of America” with my brother, the conversation starts and ends with the police departments.

    SWAT is just another word for pussies who like to play GI Joe.

    Oh Noes!!! Our “peace officers” will be limited to .50 full auto hardware???? The humanity!!!!

    1. I vaguely recall hearing that it is or was a violation of international law to use .50 cal. on people.

      1. I’ve never heard that. Seems like hellfire missle would be an issue.

        1. I never served, so don’t go by me. I had a friend in the Marine reserves who operated some sort of armored deathmobile, which had grenade launches and .50s. He said they weren’t allowed by some treaty to use those on people, but they could use them on vehicles people were in. This was a long time ago, and he could’ve been wrong, anyway.

          1. 50 cals are used as sniper rifles nowadays.

            1. Never made any sense to me. Dead is dead.

          2. Hollow points aren’t allowed.

            Of course, that’s what all cops carry in the US.

            1. Hollow-points (Dum-Dums) are banned for “land warfare” under the various conventions on such, none of which regulate “police” forces.

          3. That would be the AAVP7A1 -RAM-RS, the only thing that keeps the Marine Corps amphibious.

      2. You heard poorly.

    2. What possibly could lea’s be using over .50 cal? I really want to know.

      1. 20 and 30mm cannon? They carry explosive projectiles. The rounds for the BMG 50 don’t explode. Although some are incendiary or tracer, buth of which can start quite a fire. I have been convinced since it happened that the FBI raid on Waco used BMG 50’s against the houses the folks occupied, and that the fires started because they used either incendiary or tracer, or both. Time was, the standard loading for the belt fed fifties loaded ball, armor piercing, ball, tracer, ball, incendiary. That way they could poke holes in stuff, poke holes in thick steel stuff or engine blocks, burn things down, and watch to see where they were firing instead of relying on sights and clculations. Pretty deadly string. It worked. At least, thats what I was told was loaded in the aircraft for wing mount fifties.

  13. So the cops don’t get 50 cals, M113s, or bayonets.

    This is a way of appearing to do something while effectively doing not a Goddamn thing. Cut of the flow of M4s and I’ll bother to sit up and take notice.

    1. I read over .50 cal as .50 cal was ok? Not that it matters given there are plenty of high powered calibers below .50 that the military snipers are now using.

      1. Whoops, you’re right. I sentence myself to internet Hell.

      2. then there’s the California BMG round… the stupid state outlawed fifty calibre for civillians, so Barret went and got hisself mad enough to fix the problem. He settled on the heavy .338 bullet, and simply necked down the classic BMG Fifty to .38 cal and reworked the loading. It is significantly faster than the BMG .50, runs a bit flatter, but lacks the downrange energy of the fifty. BUT.. it is so far under the .50 cal prohibition the state can’t just up and ban it. Particularly as there are already at least three .338 calibre rounds in common use. They’d have a revolt on their hands if they reduce the ban to .338 cal. Then, if they drop the ban to .338, what about all the .40, .44, .45 large hunting loads, and the classics like the .44/70? That Mr. Barrett is one pretty sharp guy. He managed to ace the entire state of California. I believe he’s also let the state know he will not sell ANYTHING to the state until they decide to rejin the Union and get out of regulating firearms and ammunition like they do.

        1. Barrett also has a .416 caliber that is quite effective at long-range.

  14. People don’t like having things taken away from them. And nobody feels as entitled as cops. My sources tell me they are behaving rather indignantly about all this negative attention. Let’s hope they don’t take it out on the citizenry.

  15. I spotted this rant who show a different point of view.

  16. And NONE of you figured out that the whole thing is a Revenge of the Bean Counters?!

    Feds buy weapons and vehicles.

    Feds want to replace old ones with newer models.

    Balance sheet takes flak if they junk, crush or shred the old ones, so what to do? What to do?

    Find a secondary market, like the one for “used cars” and unload ’em there.

    Which secondary market? One where the customers can’t afford the new shit but in many cases are legally ‘licensed’ to use the old shit.

    Police and State Defense Organizations!


    Problem solved, from at least one point of view.

    Ignore potential unintended consequences or problems… someone else will clean up that mess later, and the bean counters will still get awards and promotions for their ‘hard work.’


  17. This brings up the larger problem that the military has to get rid of billions of dollars worth of equipment every year to make room for billions of dollars worth of new, and often unwanted purchases of new war materiel. The world is flooded with arms that we cast off and it’s breaking the bank. Libertarians tend to shrug this off as a minor drawback to their alliance with Republicans.

  18. Anyone who believes the stuff he listed was available, with the exception of camo gear, which you can get anywhere, needs to have their tinfoil hat loosened.
    Military surplus, with the exception of full/semi auto rifles, already available to PD’s, was purely defensive. There were never grenade launchers, and sure as heck no grenades to go with them, bayonets or any of the other mass killing or hand-to-hand equipment that the military regularly uses.
    Police are only supposed to project lethal force at an individual, not on the mass scale that most military equipment is designed for.

    1. Tell that to one of the innocent families targeted by mistake in the middle of the night by officially sanctioned armed thugs with badges, bullet-proof armor, military full-auto M16s and battering rams for dealing breaking down legitimately and sensibly locked doors of a private residence.

      That happens several times a week in communities all over America.

  19. And of course Faux News thinks it’s a bad thing. Yesterday they had some supercop type on explaining how badly the police need this equipment, and how no one has *ever* complained about police abuse of military hardware. I kept waiting for him to complain that the host was lobbing his softballs too hard…

  20. Nothing better for riot control than a line of men with ’03 Springfields/M1918 Enfields with that 16″ M1903 bayonet fixed – no ammo required.

  21. All the extra military equipment will be sent to Syria and Iran. The government will never get it right.

  22. This is just another of Odictator’s sham and scam diversions. Here’s what he’s ALWAYS really wanted:

    “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

    B. Hussein Obama said that during a 2008 campaign speech in Colorado Springs, CO.

    And he’s accomplishing that now right under the nose of the American people by arming and weaponizing federal bureaucracies — the cesspools of unelected tyrants such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s using the IRS to attack his political enemies and the EPA to attack fossil fuels and capitalism itself.

    Obama’s go-to consigliere, racist and racial hatemonger Al Sharpton, has proposed nationalizing all domestic police forces. The “Baltimore Sun” recorded comments by Sharpton calling for the Justice Department to “take over policing in this country.” To accomplish this, Sharpton said, “we’re going to have to fight states’ rights.”

    Make no mistake about it: For the first time in American history, under Obama’s tyrannical regime we’ve got a growing dictatorship not unlike Nazi Germany building right here in the former land of the free and home of the brave.

    And a near-majority of the ignorant, dumbed-down, welfare-addicted American sheep are in strong support of it — or at least doing nothing to stop it.

  23. Hallelujah! That will definitely prevent riots, as well as protect residents and police.

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