More than nine months after the paramilitary response to anti-police protests sent shockwaves around the world from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, Barack Obama is taking matters into his own hands. The president will ban the US government from providing certain types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply control other weapons and gear provided to law enforcement, White House officials announced on Monday.
The announcement coincides with the release of a report from a taskforce on policing assembled by Obama in response to the turmoil in Ferguson. The so-called 21st Century Policing Task Force, made up of 12 members from academia and law enforcement, was asked to propose solutions to overcome racial bias in police operations and recommend ways to improve relations between agencies and the communities they serve.
“Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian – rather than a warrior – mindset to build trust and legitimacy both within agencies and with the public,” the report said.
The White House said 21 police agencies nationwide, including those of Camden, New Jersey, and nearby Philadelphia, have agreed to start putting out never-before-released data on citizen interactions like use of force, stops, citations and officer-involved shootings. Congressional reform on de-escalating militarized gear in local law enforcement has stalled.