"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."— Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military.
Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.
Only now—after the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment
to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war
, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers
, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police
patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones
, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later,
after a whole generation of young Americans
has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictates—only now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons
being passed along to local police departments.
Not all, mind you, just some
Talk about too little, too late.
Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police
, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.
Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations
such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations