In the aftermath of Ferguson, after police descended upon the streets in terrifying armored trucks with military weapons, President Obama signed an executive order blocking military equipment from being transferred or repurposed for police forces. The reasoning, according to Obama, was that seeing police use weapons of war against American communities “can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.” It was one of several reforms attempting to curb the alarming militarization of police and to deescalate tensions between local communities and police.
That era is over. On Monday, one month after the so-called “law and order” president urged police to rough up suspects and days after he pardoned noted torture enthusiast Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump’s administration rolled back the 2015 executive order.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration is rescinding the executive order blocking police from acquiring used military gear and equipment like helicopters, armed vehicles, helmets, vests, and more. According to a summary of the order given to law enforcement groups and obtained by USA Today, “the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense, along with restoring the full scope of grants used to purchase this type of equipment from other sources.”
“The executive order the President will sign today will ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job and send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become the new normal,” Sessions said.