President Barack Obama has now ordered a review of military hardware that is distributed to state and local police, according to Reuters on Saturday. Naturally, the order for the review of police equipment is related to concern over how the equipment is being used during racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in the past two weeks. It has been two weeks since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson with nearly two weeks of police and other authorities asserting their force to maintain order in the St. Louis suburb.
Obama has ordered a review of federal programs and funding that allows state and local law enforcement to purchase military equipment, according to a senior Obama administration official on Saturday. Without a doubt, these actions by the president are being made after visuals of police have been seen by Americans in the past two weeks. In the images, authorities have been seen with military-style guns and armor as they are faced with the protesters in Ferguson. The images of police who are equipped with such gear have reportedly alarmed many Americans, according to a Huffington Post report.
The order by Obama is twofold. First the president wants to find out whether the program which began after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 are appropriate in today’s handling of such events as the Ferguson events in recent days. Secondly, he wants to find out if state and local law enforcement personnel have been given proper training to use the military-style tools at their disposal.
Reportedly, the review will be done in coordination with the United States Congress. White House staff will be conducting he review. The White House staff includes – but is not limited to – the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and relevant United States agencies including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice and the Treasury. The review, in other words, will be expansive.
In the past week, United States Attorney General Eric Holder has visited Ferguson. His job is to look at the death of Michael Brown as a civili rights issue. It is also reported by Politico that Al Sharpton si communicating with the Obama administration after his involvement in Ferguson. According to the piece in Politico, Sharpton has clearly become President Obama's strongest link to African American race issues in America.
President Obama will be reviewing the programs this Monday. He will hold a White House news conference on the subject of the review. The report concludes by saying that Obama wants to make sure police are purchasing equipment they actually need. The president said that there is “a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement – and we don’t want those lines blurred.”