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Federal Government to Stop Providing Some Military Equipment to Local Law Enforcement

Over the past several months, national conversations over the militarization of police have become hot button issues. With recent events adding fuel to the fire - including large scale protests in Ferguson, Missouri and other places across the country - many believed it was time to take action. On Monday, President Obama did just that by ordering the federal government to stop distributing some military equipment to local law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

Here are a few key details about the measure:

  • Supporters of the order cited social consequences of militarized police, stating that it can give communities a sense that law enforcement is an occupying force rather than a part of community that exists to protect and serve. Militarization, they believe, can inadvertently send the wrong message.
  • The executive order - which was prompted by recommendations from officials at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland security - will only stop the exchange of some military equipment, including bayonets, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft, and track-run armored vehicles. Local police departments will still have access to riot gear, specialized firearms, and armored trucks.
  • According to some critics, the measure falls short in its goal to change public perception that police are not a military organization working against rather than for communities. Other critics believe it is a step in the wrong direction that opens the door to an increase in crime.

Although there are conflicting opinions surrounding the order, there is certainly no doubt that law enforcement and community relations have become a strained issue of national concern. Aside and apart from the larger conversation - one that is complex and difficult to solve - the issue raises questions as to whether interactions between law enforcement and criminal suspects at the local level will be strained - and whether those accused of crimes will still have their rights protected.

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