President Donald Trump will sign an executive order aimed at restoring a controversial program allowing local police departments to obtain surplus military-style equipment, such as armored tanks and grenade launchers. The decision, which was confirmed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday, will officially repeal the Obama administration’s restrictions on such transfers.
“The executive order the President will sign today will ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job and send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become the new normal,” Sessions said while speaking at an event for the National Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville.
Sessions also cited renewed efforts to combat drug-trafficking as a major reason for resurrecting the program. Local police departments have long justified the need for such equipment by citing the need to combat drug-trafficking. Mother Jones previously obtained hundreds of documents detailing such requests and found:
The single most common reason agencies requested a mine-resistant vehicle was to combat drugs. Fully a quarter of the 465 requests projected using the vehicles for drug enforcement. Almost half of all departments indicated that they sit within a region designated by the federal government as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order prohibiting local police departments from acquiring a slew of equipment largely in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where photographs of local police officials employing military Humvees and weapons shocked the country.
For a deeper look at the billion-dollar industry that militarizes local police departments, head to our investigation, “Making of the Warrior Cop” here.