Obama orders review of police ‘militarization’ programs
WATCH ABOVE: It’s been two weeks since a white police officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. Sue Turner reports.
EDGARTOWN, Mass. – 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 Defence, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury.
The officials say the review will be co-ordinated 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.”
Funeral service for Brown to be held Monday
In a separate statement, President Barack Obama is sending three White House officials to the funeral service of the 18-year-old whose death in a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked days of racial unrest.
Leading the group for Monday’s service will be the chairman of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, Broderick Johnson. My Brother’s Keeper is an Obama initiative that aims to empower young minorities. Johnson is also the secretary for the Cabinet.
Also attending will be the deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Marlon Marshall, and an adviser for the office, Heather Foster.
The White House says Marshall is a St. Louis native and attended school with Brown’s mother.
© 2014 The Associated Press