Obama bans or limits federal transfers of military-style armaments to police forces

Obama is limiting federal provision of military armaments, like those used in Ferguson
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Monday, President Obama is announcing new limits on federal transfers of military-style weapons and other equipment to local police forces, part of an effort to de-militarize police and increase public trust in law enforcement, especially among minority communities. Obama's new orders are based on the recommendations from an interagency task force he convened in January, in response to the heavy-handed crackdown on disruptive protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.

Effective immediately, the federal government will no longer finance or sell tracked armored vehicles, weapons or ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, camouflage uniforms, grenade launchers, or bayonets, and the feds will consider ways to get back such equipment it has handed over to local police forces. Starting in the fall, it will also become more difficult to get other military-type gear, including wheeled armored vehicles, drones, explosives, battering rams, and riot gear.

“We are, without a doubt, sitting at a defining moment in American policing,” said Ron Davis, director of the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and a veteran police officer. Obama will announce the changes in Camden, New Jersey, and release his task force's 116-page report. Among the advice in the report is urging law enforcement agencies to "embrace a guardian — rather than a warrior — mindset to build trust and legitimacy both within agencies and with the public."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.