An executive order signed by Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama in an effort to de-militarize law enforcement agencies in response to the unrest in Ferguson is frustrating police officials across the country.
According to WMAZ-TV, President Obama’s order mandates that local police departments who have obtained grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, and bayonets through the Department of Defense’s 1033 surplus military equipment program must return them by April of 2016.
Walton County, Ga. Sheriff Joe Chapman, whose department had to return an armored personnel carrier, said, “It takes a layer of protection away from my deputies. There are nuts out there with weapons they shouldn’t have and my deputies have to go up against these people every day. It limits us. It puts at a disadvantage.”
[RELATED: Billionaire Koch Brothers Fund Campaign Against Police Militarization]
Oakland County, Mich. Sheriff Michael Bouchard told Detroit Free Press, “We’re actually taking away a proven asset from law enforcement all over the country, destroying on many levels our ability to handle a very big situation, any situation like Paris. Those are going to be handled by the local police and this is the type of equipment needed.”
According to WFMJ-TV, Mahoning County, Ohio Sheriff Jerry Greene said, “At a time when police are facing war zones on the streets with criminals and terrorists using semi automatic weapons to murder unarmed men, women, and children, or detonating bombs like in the attack at the Boston Marathon, law enforcement should be given every tool in the arsenal to help keep communities safe. In many ways, I feel like law enforcement is being thrown under the bus as you know we are living in a different world with the things happening with ISIS and all of that, first responders do need to be prepared.”
In comments cited by CNN explaining his rationale behind issuing the executive order, President Obama said, “We’ve seen how militarized gear [used by local police] can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.”
In December of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing how local law enforcement agencies were obtaining battlefield-ready military weapons and training from the DOD. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.