President Obama has ordered a review of federal programs that help state and local law enforcement acquire military equipment, a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News on Saturday. The review comes amid national outrage at what many see as the growing militarization of policing in America.
The White House-directed review, to be announced in a press conference Monday, comes in the wake of the massive public outcry over what has been widely perceived as the excessive use of force by county police in Ferguson, Missouri, where officers recently deployed military-grade equipment to quell unrest following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer.
Protesters in the majority-black St. Louis suburb were met by officers wearing gas masks and military fatigues, who made frequent use of tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and even sonic weaponry known as LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) that had previously been deployed in Iraq. A recent ACLU report found that the militarization of law enforcement has been on the rise in recent years, particularly as police departments make use of federal programs that allow them to cheaply acquire military gear designed for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama has directed the review to assess whether those programs are appropriate, and whether police are receiving the necessary training to use the equipment correctly. It will also look at whether the federal programs are being audited sufficiently.
The review will be led by the White House and in coordination with Congress, the administration official said, and will include the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, as well as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and Treasury.