On Saturday, President Barack Obama reportedly ordered a federal review of the increasing militarization of local police forces after Ferguson, Missouri erupted in rioting and looting after Michael Brown’s death.
According to Reuters, Obama called for a review of “federal programs and funding that enable state and local law enforcement to purchase military equipment” because he “wants to know whether the programs” are “appropriate and whether state and local law enforcement are given proper training.”
Reuters reported that 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 relevant U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury, and it will be carried out in coordination with Congress.”
After acknowledging that local police forces must “get proper equipment to deal with threats that historically wouldn’t arise in local communities,” Obama indicated at a Monday press conference that there would still be “some bipartisan interest in re-examining some of those programs,” as Breitbart News reported.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has also come out against subsidizing excessive militarization of local police forces, writing in a Time op-ed that “Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security.”
Paul said that the “the images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action” and said that when “you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury–national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture–we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.”
“The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm,” Paul wrote. “It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.”
On Monday, Obama said “one of the great things about the United States has been our ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement.”
“That helps preserve our civil liberties. That helps ensure that the military is accountable to civilian direction. And that has to be preserved,” Obama said.