White House reviewing programs that equip police departments across the nation with military gear
- Los Angeles Police Department officers ride on an armored medical rescue vehicle in a drill simulating a terrorist attack in downtown Los Angeles. (AP photo)
EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) - The White House is conducting a review of programs that have equipped local police departments with military gear from the Pentagon, urged by President Barack Obama's call for more separation between the nation's armed forces and civilian law enforcement.
The examination comes in the aftermath of the police response to unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of an unarmed black man.
Two senior administration officials said Saturday that the review will examine whether the programs are appropriate; the amount of training provided for using military equipment; and how well the government audits the use of the money and equipment by local police departments.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the review by name.
The review will be led by White House staff including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and agencies such as the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury. The officials say the review will be coordinated with Congress, where several lawmakers have called for a re-examination of the military-to-police programs.
On Monday, Obama acknowledged that the images of well-armed police confronting protesters with combat weapons in Ferguson made it useful to review how local law enforcement agencies have used federal grants that permit them to obtain heavier armaments.
"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those lines blurred," Obama told reporters at the White House. "That would be contrary to our traditions."