White House bans police from using certain military equipment

Updated: 2015-05-19 10:02


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White House bans police from using certain military equipment

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with local youth and law enforcement officials at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, New Jersey May 18, 2015. Obama is making the visit to New Jersey Monday to push efforts to encourage trust-building between police and the communities they serve. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Monday banned the country's police department from using certain military-style equipment in a move to improve the troubled relations between the police force and protesters over deaths of unarmed black men in police arrest.

"We've seen how militarized gear 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," said Obama during a visit to Camden, New Jersey.

"It can alienate and intimidate local residents, and send the wrong message. So we're going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments," Obama announced.

Effective immediately, the country's law enforcement agencies will no longer be able to acquire via transfer or buy using federally-provided funds equipment such as tracked armored vehicles, grenade launchers, large caliber weapons and ammunition, said earlier a new report by a White House working group.

Also, acquisition of such weapons as specialized firearms and ammunition, explosives and riot equipment, would need additional certifications and assurances, said the report.

The practice of equipping the police force with military-style weaponry started after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. However, the White House working group concluded that acquisition of such equipment by the police force poses "substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items" and could "significantly undermine community trust."

The White House move to demilitarize the police force in certain measures is part of a broader effort for the administration to defuse tension between law enforce agencies and minority communities after the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of local police force triggered unrest across the country.