Law enforcement officers, including a sniper perched atop an armored vehicle, watch as demonstrators protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 13, 2014. The police chief of this St. Louis suburb said Wednesday that Brown injured the officer who later fatally shot the unarmed 18 year old though witnesses dispute that such an altercation occurred.
Whitney Curtis/The New York Times/Redux

Trump eager to return military equipment to police departments

The violent crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago rattled the country in a variety of ways, but one of the lasting debates focused on the militarization of local law enforcement. Many Americans weren’t just shocked by the unrest; they were surprised to see police officers carrying weapons of war while confronting civilians.
Soon after, there was considerable interest on Capitol Hill about reforming the Pentagon’s “1033” program that makes military equipment available to police departments. Though most of the support for changes was spearheaded by Democrats – Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) were particularly invested – even some Republican lawmakers agreed it was time to take another look at the policy.
Congressional action never materialized, but as we discussed last year, the Obama administration followed through, banning the transfer of at least some types of military weapons to local police.
As Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday, Donald Trump wants to undo what President Obama has done.
Police union members in Ohio today quizzed Donald Trump about protective gear, saying President Obama has banned practice of sales of surplus military equipment to police department.
Trump says he would resume such sales, saying “Yes, I would. I think it’s ridiculous” the practice was stopped.
Keep in mind, under the White House’s reforms, items like grenade launchers are no longer made available to local police departments. NBC News’ reported last May that if local departments “want other, less-imposing military equipment, local law enforcement agencies will have to submit to stringent federal oversight and restrictions.”
Under a Trump administration, those restrictions would disappear, and police access to military equipment and weapons would be restored.
Whether or not the Republican nominee has thought any of this through – as opposed to simply blurting out an answer yesterday – is unclear.