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Obama Moves to Halt US Police Militarization

  • Aru Pande

The Obama administration is banning the federal transfer of some military gear, including grenade launchers and tracked armored vehicles, to local police departments, in the aftermath of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s just one measure that is coming out of a task force aimed at improving trust between minority communities and police departments.

Few can forget the images of police in full riot gear and in armored vehicles responding to people who took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri last year to protest against the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

Now months later – President Obama is banning police from having certain combat-style equipment that he says is meant for a battlefield.

“We have seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there is an occupying force as opposed to a force that is part of the community that is protecting them and serving them," said President Obama.

Camden County, New Jersey crime statistics, 2012 - 2014

Camden County, New Jersey crime statistics, 2012 - 2014

President Obama made the remarks Monday during a trip to Camden, New Jersey – once considered the most dangerous city in the United States.

But two years after a community-policing program was implemented – murder rates are down 47 percent.

Obama heard from Camden’s police chief on how “virtual” patrols using cameras have created safe corridors for children walking home from school.

He also talked with local youth and police on how the department has built trust, by getting officers out of their cars and into the community on a regular basis.

National guard troops in front of Baltimore City Hall observe as more than 1000 student protesters arrive, April 30, 2015. (Victoria Macchi/VOA News)

National guard troops in front of Baltimore City Hall observe as more than 1000 student protesters arrive, April 30, 2015. (Victoria Macchi/VOA News)

“It’s not just crisis response. It’s not after the fact there’s a crime, there’s a dead body, there’s a shooting, and now we’re going to show up. It’s, 'we’re here all the time,' and hopefully, we can prevent those shootings from happening in the first place," said Obama.

Visiting Camden on the heels of the unrest in Baltimore, President Obama again emphasized the importance of creating opportunity for all of America’s youth… whether through early childhood education or a reformed criminal justice system.

“I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done," said Obama.

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