August 24, 2014
President Obama has directed a review of the federal programs that send surplus military and other supplies and equipment to local law enforcement agencies, a White House spokesman confirmed Saturday.
The review, which will be led by the Office of Management and Budget and other White House offices, sprang from widespread concern about the military-style body armor and vehicles police in Ferguson, Mo., used in their early confrontations with protesters rioting over the the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown. . . .
It will weigh whether the programs should continue and whether police and local law enforcement have the right training and guidance to use the equipment.
The White House will coordinate its review with Congressional oversight hearings and possible legislation. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced hearings on the programs when Congress returns in September, and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has written a bill that would place restrictions on the program and try to ensure that police have the right training to use the equipment.
Republicans should get behind this — and add language that would limit misconduct where civilian arms are concerned, too.
And while it’s nice to see the Obama Administration catching up to where I was in 2006, I note that the equipment is only part of the problem: A doctrine of SWAT overuse that sends guys dressed like Imperial Stormtroopers to serve ordinary drug warrants is a bad idea no matter where the equipment comes from, as is an “if you don’t want to get shot, do what I tell you” sense of superiority.