By Debbie Gregory.
Lately, it seems as though media outlets are reporting on conflicts and protests against law enforcement. As many of our readers are former military, they often side with law enforcement, as do many law abiding patriotic Americans. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that military and local law enforcement are two different entities, each with separate, but equally important missions to our country, its government, and the American way of life. While similar in nature and mentality, they are two separate trades- and the tools for each trade should also be separate.
For years, the military has offered surplus and out of date weapons, gear, ammunition, and vehicles to law enforcement agencies at discounted prices. Recently, the White House announced new limitations on federal programs that provide military grade equipment, weaponry, and vehicles to state and local law enforcement agencies. From now on, there will be restrictions on gear such as armed aircraft, tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and high-powered guns and ammo of .50 caliber or greater. The restrictions prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from acquiring such equipment from federal agencies or with federal funds.
Additionally, the restrictions will put terms on law enforcement agencies wishing to acquire more common equipment from the military. Riot gear, drones, helicopters, firearms, and wheeled armored vehicles will now have to be approved by local government before law enforcement agencies are able to purchase them from the military. Agencies will be required to provide explanations for the need of the equipment as part of their mission and duties, and prove that the members of their force are properly trained to use such equipment before a purchase can be made.
Since the 1990s, more than $4 billion worth of military grade equipment has been procured by law enforcement agencies. Naturally, many law enforcement agencies and their supporters across the country are not pleased with the restrictions. But the risks of misusing such powerful equipment is too great. More to the point, such equipment is generally used for military assaults, and is not essential for agencies that are intended to “protect and serve.”
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Military Connection: New Limits on Military Gear Sold to Police: By Debbie Gregory