The Slatest

Obama Orders Review of Program That Sends Military Gear to Local Police Forces

Law enforcement officers watch on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 18.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

Troubled by the images out of Ferguson, President Obama has ordered a thorough review of the decade-old program that supplies military equipment to local police forces. The comprehensive audit will not only study whether such equipment is necessary, but also whether local police officers receive enough training to use it appropriately. “The review, coupled with proposed legislation and planned congressional hearings, opens the possibility for significant changes in Washington’s approach to arming local law enforcement agencies,” notes the New York Times, which was first to report the news that was then confirmed to everyone by a senior administration official.

“Among other things, the president has asked for a review of whether these programs are appropriate; whether state and local law enforcement are provided with the necessary training and guidance; and whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding,” a senior administration official said, according to CBS News. The review will be led by the White House itself and include several different offices and agencies, including the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and Homeland Security.

The program to arm local police forces so heavily began after Sept. 11, 2001, as Washington saw law enforcement as the first line of defense to any terrorist attack. “This equipment flowed to local police forces because they were increasingly being asked to assist in counterterrorism,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Saturday, according to the Washington Post. “But displays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive. It makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it.”