Rather than answering to the calls of millions of Americans who want police officers stripped of their military weapons and equipment, President Barack Obama decided that he will do no such thing, reported The Guardian.
Local law enforcement agencies all over the country have a deal with the federal government that allows police departments to obtain used military weapons and equipment at rock-bottom prices. Instead of ending, or at least augmenting, those programs, Obama will bypass addressing what has become an increased militarization of police and focus on “improved” training of local police officers.
Obama announced that he will issue an executive order no later than February 2015 that will force federal agencies to “improve the way in which local law enforcement agencies procure, audit, and manage a giant stockpile loaned and purchased from the Pentagon.” Additionally, Obama is calling for a $263 million, three-year spending package which would, if Congress approves, fund 50,000 lapel-mounted cameras for police to wear while on the beat.
Requiring police to wear lapel-mounted cameras while working is a smart move. In fact, some police departments in America have already adopted the use of lapel-mounted cameras. The Rialto Police Department in California began use of lapel cameras in 2012, and the results have been positive.
After introducing the cameras, public complaints against officers decreased by 88 percent over the course of 12 months. More importantly, the use of force by police officers decreased by 66 percent over that same amount of time. It seems the police do their jobs better with consistent oversight. They tend to diffuse potentially dangerous situations better.
However, to not curtail the flow of military-grade weapons and equipment to local police is misguided. To “improve” the training of officers seems like a waste of resources and time because a majority of police officers are former military who have been given extensive weapons training. It’s nothing that a lot of police officers don’t already know. It’s beating a dead horse.
The problem isn’t the technical training of police officers. Most are already knowledgeable about the weapons and equipment they receive from the federal government. The problem is oversight, which is why the cameras are a good idea.
There are some ex-military cops who only join the department to relive their career as a soldier but a militaristic approach is dangerous and destructive. It deteriorates the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Militarized police forces don’t make a people feel protected, they make them feel scared and hunted.