The Trump administration will reinstate a controversial Department of Defense program that distributes surplus military weapons and equipment to local police departments across the U.S., reversing restrictions placed on such transfers in 2015 by President Barack Obama after a series of police-involved shootings of civilians led to clashes between protesters and heavily-armed police officers across the country.
A federal sting operation uncovered lax oversight by the Defense Department agency tasked with transferring military surplus to law enforcement agencies, potentially allowing illicit purchases of “controlled properties” such as night-vision goggles and simulated pipe bombs.
Over the past year, the debate over law-enforcement reform — particularly over the use of deadly force — has risen to a fever pitch. Protests against police violence, particularly in Ferguson, brought the specific issue of police militarization to the forefront of the American public’s mind. Compounding this was the notion that law enforcement agencies were getting equipment for little to no cost from the Pentagon’s controversial 1033 program.