Police in the United States won’t be able to get a wide range of military grade equipment, including tanks and high-caliber firearms, from other federal agencies. The White House has introduced new restrictions prompted by the riots in Ferguson.
Under the new rules revealed on Monday this week, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies are barred from buying or receiving from federal partners such as the Pentagon. This includes: weaponized vehicles and grenade launchers, and less-lethal items such as tactical vehicles, flash-bang explosives. Riot gear can now only be acquired by law enforcers if a list of conditions are met.
“The idea is to make sure we strike the right balance of providing equipment that is appropriate and important, while at the same time put standards in place that give a clear reason for the transfer of that equipment, with clear training and safety provisions in place,” Cecilia Muñoz, the White House director of domestic policy, told reporters in a conference call, according to the Washington Post.
Details about the decision were announced by the White House on Monday morning and are expected to be discussed by President Barack Obama later in the day when he speaks on community policing in Camden, New Jersey. According to the White House, the president will “highlight innovative steps taken by a city that has struggled with one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely and reduce crime in the process.”
The topic of policing has dominated public discussions since Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last year. The incident was followed by a wave of demonstrations, which attracted national attention after the Ferguson Police Department and other regional law enforcement groups responded to the protests clad in riot gear and equipped with high-powered weaponry more fit for a battlefield than a St. Louis suburb.