POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Local law enforcement is applauding President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse an Obama-era ban of providing certain surplus military items to law enforcement.
“They took that equipment away from us quick. Just as soon as he signed that order we got a notice we’re coming after it,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told WFLA.
The Obama Administration made the move after protesters clashed with police three years ago in Ferguson, Missouri.
At the time, the Justice Department said the equipment only escalated the situation.
“Barack Obama saw some of this equipment used in a couple of the riots situations and they thought it was inappropriately used. As a result, what’s the answer? Hey, it’s federal equipment, we will just take it back from them,” Sheriff Judd said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office had to give up two armored tank-like vehicles used in standoffs and rescue operations.
“Now we don’t have equipment that was used to protect our deputies and protect the community,” Sheriff Judd said.
The decision to reverse the ban was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and received a standing ovation from law enforcement.
“These restrictions that had been imposed went too far. We will not put superficial concerns above public safety,” Sessions said.
“President Trump simply returned to us equipment we need to keep law enforcement safe, and the community safe,” Sheriff Judd said.
Sheriff Judd said he wants his equipment back, a better alternative he said, than where it is now.
“Sitting idol in some federal compound someplace. It’s frustrating,” he said.
THE ACLU disagrees.
Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel at the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, had this comment:
We have an epidemic in the United States of police using excessive force, particularly against people of color, with injuries and deaths mounting. It defies logic to arm the police with weapons of war — grenade launchers, high-caliber assault weapons, and more — but that’s precisely what President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have decided to do.
“Three years ago this month, the nation witnessed a highly militarized, violent crackdown by police on protesters in Ferguson. Today’s executive order erases the sensible limits placed by the Obama administration after Ferguson on the kinds of military equipment flowing from the federal government to local police and into our neighborhoods. Tensions between law enforcement and communities remain high, yet the president and the attorney general are giving the police military-grade weaponry instead of practical, effective ways to protect and serve everyone.”
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