by William Teach | January 17, 2015 7:42 am
One of the early issues surrounding what happened in Ferguson was the use of military styled equipment against protesters. While many were reserving judgement regarding what happened between Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson, which ended up with Brown dead, many people were concerned over the use of said military style equipment, even after the riots, looting, and arson broke out. This prompted a “national discussion” over police using that equipment, and why they need it. No worries, though, Obama is available to provide more!
(Daily Caller) President Obama quietly issued an executive order Friday in which he continued to give local police departments military-style tanks, but also created a working group to make sure that the tanks won’t be used in a racist way.
“For decades, the Federal Government has provided equipment to State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies [LEAs] through excess equipment transfers [including GSA donations], asset forfeiture programs, and Federal grants,” Obama stated in the executive order.
“These programs have assisted LEAs as they carry out their critical missions to keep the American people safe. The equipment acquired by LEAs through these programs includes administrative equipment, such as office furniture and computers. But it also includes military and military-styled equipment, firearms, and tactical vehicles provided by the Federal Government.”
Stars and Stripes noted in August
The 1033 Program was an invention of Congress, not the Pentagon. It came into being through the 1990-1991 National Defense Authorization Act, and the program’s original scope was much narrower than it is today. As the federal government’s “war on drugs” escalated, the 1990-1991 NDAA authorized the transfer of excess DOD property to federal and state agencies for use in counterdrug activities. A few years later, the program was broadened considerably to include materiel that could be used for “the execution of law enforcement activities,” to include counterdrug and counterterrorism missions, according to DOD.
The theory behind the initiative was that the military’s unneeded equipment might as well be put to good use, rather than be destroyed or warehoused.
There was a time when drug dealers and gangs were arming themselves heavily, and police needed a way to protect themselves and match the firepower. Terrorism was spreading outside of the Middle East. All tactical vehicles are stripped down, and are without weapons. Less than 5% are weapons, and 1% are vehicles. Most are things like “office equipment, blankets and sleeping bags, computers, digital cameras and video recorders, binoculars, flashlights, extreme weather clothing, repair tools, first-aid supplies and TVs.” But, it is rather disconcerting for citizens to see those tank-like vehicles on our streets shooting water cannons and tear gas.
The question is, are they needed? There are arguments for and against. That’s an argument for another day, but Obama apparently thinks so, on one condition
“There is established an interagency Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group to identify agency actions that can improve Federal support for the acquisition of controlled equipment…ensuring LEA compliance with civil rights requirements resulting from receipt of Federal financial assistance.”
“The Working Group shall engage with external stakeholders, including appropriate State officials, law enforcement organizations, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and academics, in developing the recommendations required by subsection [a] of this section.”
In other words, state, county, and city police departments will have commissars/political officers looking over their shoulders from now on, manufacturing raaaaacism charges.
One thing to note: tanks do not go to any law enforcement agencies from the military. Period. You can read a bit more on the equipment and uses here.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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