Amid high tensions between urban communities and the officers that police them, the Obama administration on Monday made its first move toward limiting the use of heavy military equipment by local law enforcement agencies.
Releasing the findings of a three-month review of federal programs, the White House called for police officers to receive more training before using military equipment acquired from the government, and it asked Congress for $263 million for body cameras, training, and other resources for local law enforcement. The 19-page report also recommended that civilian officials be required to sign off on requests by police departments for military gear.
The recommendations appeared to be aimed at finding a middle ground: The White House is not calling for a halt to the transfers of military equipment to local law enforcement, but it wants more restrictions and oversight of the program.
"Federal equipment programs provide for the reuse of valuable equipment and have contributed to the protection of the public and to reduced operational risk to peace officers, who put their lives on the line every day to keep the American people safe," the report said. "At the same time, when police lack adequate training, make poor operational choices, or improperly use equipment, these programs can facilitate excessive uses of force and serve as a highly visible barrier between police and the communities they secure."