Trump keeping promises to law enforcement agencies
Friday, September 22, 2017
At the end of August, President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing police departments to once again have access to the discarded or discontinued supplies from the military branches. Large-caliber weapons, armored vehicles and grenade launchers will be available to them for free, adding to their resources without making a dent in their budget.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also removed Obama administration limits on a program that allows the police to avoid federal scrutiny and seize cash and property with federal help. This move was seen as controversial, as was Trump's recent pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
But police departments and their associated unions are reveling in having a steadfast ally in the Oval Office. Many law enforcement agencies found the Obama administration not supportive enough and wish to overcome that weakness.
"We applaud the President's actions, and we are encouraged to see him acting on this important issue that we have vocally advocated for," said National Sheriffs' Association President Harold Eavenson, Rockwall County, Texas, and Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson, in a statement.
A few weeks after the announcement, the media is still abuzz with questions about how law enforcement agencies will balance this newfound power. Many view these moves with alarm, describing them as Trump's endorsement of blind police power and fulfillment of a law enforcement wish list.
Critics say that condoning these aggressive police policies is paving the way for situations that can quickly spiral out of control. According to the NAACP, these recent events send a disturbing message that the government has no interest in holding police officers accountable.
As far as Sessions is concerned, the military surplus equipment is "lifesaving gear" that is essential for policing. "We will not put superficial concerns above public safety," he said, urging the media not to promote hostility and violence through disrespect for the police.
For Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Trump administration is a refreshing change from the Obama era.
"This decisive action by President Trump fulfills a promise he made to the FOP during the campaign, and police officers nationwide are grateful to him," he told The Washington Post.
But does this mean that the nation’s police will go on a rampage, and we will have another Ferguson on our hands?
Approving access to ammunition and better resources for law enforcement agencies is not "evil." Yes, there is some divisive rhetoric at play here, but to assume that the whole police force is all set to abuse their power and turn this into a totalitarian regime is pretty far-fetched.
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