Earlier today, President Obama announced a ban on the federal government’s transfer of certain military vehicles and weaponry to local and state police departments in the United States. This is extremely welcome news, and given that it is effective today, it will immediately begin to show dividends by increasing the trust between police and the public they serve.
The ACLU has been speaking out against the excessive militarization of local police for some time now, even going so far as to release a 98-page report on the topic that you can find here. Our investigation gives us concrete statistical data to back up what recent news events have demonstrated to us so viscerally: Hyperaggressive tools and tactics escalate the risk of needless violence, destroy property, and undermine civil liberties. Unfortunately, as you might expect, these effects are even more pronounced in communities of color.
Neighborhoods are not warzones, and local police are not military police. As we work to build better relationships between law enforcement and communities it is essential that we keep those distinctions in mind. We will continue to push for Congress to protect today’s reforms by making them law, but for now let us celebrate President Obama’s order as a significant step forward.