The images of local agents in camouflage uniforms and police pointing assault rifles at protesters as they were repeated during the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, may have their days numbered. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the programs from the nineties allow local police forces and state military equipment be made to spare the Defense Department.
This practice was justified at the time with the need for agents to deal adequately possible usually violent and heavily armed drug traffickers. After the trauma of September 11, the event that had to respond to a terrorist threat added. But with the end of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the growing surplus military equipment, some local police stations have acquired material called Pentagon, through the “1033 program” – which, at first glance, seems disproportionate in a civilian environment such as mine-resistant vehicles, assault rifles or stun grenades.
Although organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had long denounced the situation, the trigger for the decision Obama has been Ferguson. There, demonstrators protested the fatal shooting at the hands of a white police disarmed a black teenager, Michael Brown, were strongly repelled by armed to the teeth, armored vehicles and snipers stationed more typical of a battlefield that street of an American city.
Statements that Obama did last week on the unrest in Ferguson, when he announced he was sending his attorney general and confidant to Ferguson, Eric Holder, and pointed to a review of the practice.
Part of this policy has been “useful”, defended the president. Having said that I think it’s probably useful to review how the financing worked [this practice] to make sure you are buying the material you really need, because there is a big difference between our armed forces and our local police officers, “he said. ” And we do not want that line to be confused,” he said.
Official sources told The New York Times that among the items to check is whether the government should continue providing this material -part of the funds to acquire it comes from grants provided by the Department of Justice as if Holder- local authorities have ” adequate training to use it.” Also will consider whether the government maintains tight control over the material delivered and how these weapons are used.
Also the Congress, which was approved at the time the ” Program 1033″ – is available to study the practice upon his return in September. The Missouri senator and chair of the Senate committee that monitors government spending and hiring, Democrat Claire McCaskill, has announced a hearing on this occasion. In the House, Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson also intends to present a bill to demilitarize the police.