Obama gets it

Ban on government sales of surplus military gear to local agencies a step in the right direction

Earlier this week, President Obama made an executive order banning the federal government from selling certain surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

“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 told reporters Monday.

The banned equipment includes grenade launchers, high-caliber guns and bayonets, tank-like armored vehicles, certain camouflaged uniforms and weoponized aircraft.

As the CN&R has reported (see “Shock and awe,” Newslines, Aug. 28, 2014), Butte County agencies have been the recipients of: 151 assault rifles, 60 pieces of night-vision equipment, 20 pistols, four helicopters and one “tank-like” vehicle. It’s not clear if any of the aforementioned items are on the banned list.

We believe the order doesn’t go far enough—it doesn’t ban private entities from selling this gear, nor does it require local agencies return banned equipment. But it is a step in the right direction at a time when police officers, whose departments have become increasingly militaristic, are facing great scrutiny over racial profiling and use of excessive force. We need officers we can trust, not an Army at our doorsteps.