Trump to Reverse Obama-Era Policy, Lift Ban on Military Gear for Local Police

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama / Getty
August 28, 2017

President Donald Trump plans to rollback another Obama-era policy and reinstate a military surplus program that provides local police departments with equipment such as large-caliber weapons and weaponized vehicles.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to make the official announcement on Monday, the New York Times reported. Sessions will be speaking at the Fraternal Order of Police conference in Nashville, Tenn.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama blocked the federal government from giving local police forces certain military-style equipment. The decision stemmed from backlash following high-profile cases between local law enforcement and African-American men. An Obama administration task force argued at the time that the "militarization" of police forces could "undermine civilian trust."

"We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like they're an occupying force," Obama said during his announcement to rein in the program.

The White House described the Obama-era policy reversal as a "policy shift toward ensuring officers have the tools they need to reduce crime and keep their communities safe," according to a document obtained by the Times that outlines the basis for the decision.

"Much of the equipment provided through the 1033 program is entirely defensive in nature ... that protect officers in active shooter scenarios and other dangerous situations," the document says.

The military surplus program, known as the "1033 program," was created in the 1990s as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The program was created to support local law enforcement with drug investigations, and was expanded in 1997 to include all local law enforcement, USA Today reported.

Since its inception, over $5 billion in excess gear has been transferred to local law enforcement.