The U.S. Department of Defense will reinstate the 1033 program, which allows the military to transfer surplus weapons, vehicles, and equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision during his keynote address at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Biennial Conference in Nashville. The Washington Post reported that President Trump will sign an executive order formalizing the move.
Then-President Obama restricted the program in 2015 as part of an effort to reduce tensions between law enforcement agencies and minority communities following the protests and police response in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. Prohibited equipment includes grenade launchers; weaponized vehicles, vessels and aircraft; bayonets; firearms of .50 caliber or higher; ammo of .50 caliber or higher; camouflage uniforms and tracked armored vehicles.
In a statement, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury applauded the decision, which the organization has worked to overturn since the initial restrictions were placed.
“We are always pleased with Attorney General Sessions, but for him and this administration to choose our Biennial Conference to announce this critical police change — something that I personally spoke to the President about — demonstrates how much respect he and his Attorney General have for our members and all the men and women in law enforcement,” Canterbury said.
The American Civil Liberties Union disagreed with the decision, citing the police crackdown in Ferguson three years ago that influenced Obama’s executive order.
“Today’s executive order erases the sensible limits placed by the Obama administration after Ferguson on the kinds of military equipment flowing from the federal government to local police and into our neighborhoods," according to the ACLU statement. "Tensions between law enforcement and communities remain high, yet the president and the attorney general are giving the police military-grade weaponry instead of practical, effective ways to protect and serve everyone.”