Trump just reauthorised police to use high-tech military gear -- Here's what they can get

FergusonScott Olson/GettyPolice force protestors from the business district into nearby neighbourhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that US president Donald Trump plans to loosen federal restrictions on local police agencies obtaining surplus weapons and equipment from the US military. 

The weapons transfer program, called the 1033 Program, was established by Congress in 1990, and has since allowed local law enforcement agencies to acquire more than $US5.4 billion in weapons and equipment, according to the Washington Post. 

Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 that restricted certain weapons from being transferred, like grenade launchers, because he worried that these weapons and equipment could create an “us versus them” mentality, like in the events in Ferguson, Mo.

When Sessions made the announcement in front of the Fraternal Order of Police, he reportedly received a “roaring applause.”

Here’s what law enforcement agencies can now get. 

Camouflage uniforms.

Cpl. Angelica Annastas/US Marine Corps

Camouflage uniforms are mostly used by SWAT officers, but critics, like Obama, worried that it could create an 'us versus them' mentality.

The Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group that made recommendations to Obama in 2015 also noted that wearing camouflage uniforms in urban settings does not actually camouflage the officer.

However, 'solid‐colour utility uniforms are not listed on the Prohibited or Controlled Equipment Lists and may continue to be acquired through Federal programs,' Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.


Mark Wilson/Getty

'This type of equipment is likewise seen as incompatible with the concept of civilian law enforcement, particularly when other equipment, such as a utility knife, could be used for ordinary and other legitimate law enforcement purposes,' Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.

Weapons of .50 calibre or higher.

US Navy

Weapons above 0.50 calibre, such as the Browning .50 calibre machine gun seen above, are also on the prohibited list because they are 'very destructive and capable of penetrating structures and lightly armoured vehicles,' Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.

Munitions of .50 calibre or higher were also banned for the same reasons as .50 calibre firearms.

Master Sgt. Michel Sauret/US Army

Grenade launchers.

US Army/Sgt. Justin A. Moeller

'Although grenade launchers can be used to launch tear gas and other nonexplosive and less‐than‐lethal projectiles, their use and misuse can be detrimental to maintaining public trust in law enforcement, and other devices that do not have similar militaristic connotations are available to launch tear gas,' Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group said.

Armoured vehicles with tracks.

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr/US Army

'Tracked armoured vehicles are included on the Prohibited Equipment List because they are designed specifically for use in military operations, their appearance may undermine community trust when used in support of civilian law enforcement activities, and LEAs can find alternative equipment options,' Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group recommendations said.

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