President Obama Makes Moves To Demilitarize Police In America

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday in an address to the nation that the federal government will no longer be giving local police departments across the country military equipment, the Washington Post reported. This, after several incidents involving police trying to disperse protesters using heavy tactical gear, as reported by the Inquisitr. The tactical gear, in large part, was given to the various police departments by the Department of Defense.

President Barack Obama said about the demilitarization of police departments in the U.S., “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… It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”

Obama continued, saying, “A sense of unfairness and powerlessness has helped to fuel the kind of unrest that we’ve seen in places like Baltimore, Ferguson and New York… It has many causes – from a basic lack of opportunity to groups feeling unfairly targeted by police – which means there’s no single solution. But there are many that could make a difference and could help. And we have to do everything in our power to make this country’s promise real for everyone willing to work for it.”

Obama has instead suggested that communities engage in community policing philosophies aimed at police further interacting with members of the public, NBC News reported. Obama has also supported further use and integration of body cameras for police officers.

Russell Laine, the Algonquin, Illinois, police chief and the president of the International Association of Police Chiefs said about Obama’s suggestion of applying community policing philosophies, “[Community policing philosophies] allows law enforcement agencies to develop a partnership with their community to create a safer environment while combating traditional crimes, supporting homeland security and providing services to our community.”

James Pasco, the executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, was critical of President Obama’s plan for demilitarization of police departments.

“The issue of militarization has been really kind of exaggerated almost to the point that I don’t recognize it at times… The vast majority of the equipment that civilian law enforcement gets from the military is administrative stuff or defensive in nature.”

The White House director of domestic policy, Cecilia Muñoz, said about demilitarization of police department’s across the nation, “The idea is to make sure we strike the right balance of providing equipment that is appropriate and important, while at the same time put standards in place that give a clear reason for the transfer of that equipment, with clear training and safety provisions in place.”

According to White House officials, the ban of military equipment for police departments will become effective immediately.

[Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images News]