Police arrest a man as they disperse a protest in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014.
Police arrest a man as they disperse a protest in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014.

President Barack Obama - responding to days of racial violence in Ferguson, Missouri - has ordered a review of the government practice of providing military hardware to state and local police.

Senior administration officials, speaking Saturday, said the White House will review whether the government should continue providing such equipment, and how some weapons, including automatic rifles and mine-resistant vehicles, are deployed by local agencies.

Security forces charge demonstrators after being h
Security forces charge demonstrators after being hit by water bottles during a protest against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.

Photos and video footage of police in armored vehicles wielding military equipment while facing Ferguson protesters have alarmed many U.S. citizens and some lawmakers.  The protests erupted August 9, after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer during a confrontation.  Days of rioting ensued.

Officials say the president wants to know whether federal grants allowing such hardware transfers are appropriate, and whether local police are properly trained with the equipment.

They also said the review, first mentioned by the president on Monday, will  take place in close coordination with the U.S. Congress.

The push to upgrade state and local police capabilities came in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

In his August 17 comments, Obama said he wanted to know that such military hardware was actually needed.  He also said he wanted to ensure that the mandates of American police agencies and the U.S. military do not become "blurred."