Obama Bans Some Military Equipment in Police Departments

President Obama announced he’s restricting the flow of military equipment to police forces.

President Barack Obama recently announced new restrictions on federal agencies that give military equipment to local police forces.

On May 18 President Obama used an executive order to ban the federal government from handing out certain kinds of weapons, including grenade launchers, firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, to police departments. Other bans include tank-like armored vehicles, some types of camouflage and weaponized aircraft.

The order also puts certain equipment, such as drones and some riot control devices, on a controlled list that forces agencies to meet stricter requirements before transferring them to police, according to CNN.com.

The president’s announcement comes after Campus Safety had previously reported that the federal government was reviewing the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security department’s transfer of equipment in August. The Task Force on 21st Century Policing was created to review and suggest ways for police to improve their relationship with the communities they serve. The creation of the Task Force came in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo. riots that occurred after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police.

In 1997 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which created the 1033 Program to allow for the transfer of excessive Department of Defense property to police to assist with “bona fide law enforcement purposes.” Since then the program has given more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment to law enforcement agencies. Campus Safety reported in December that the Task Force found the distribution of weapons was unevenly implemented.

Police can still buy any of the federally banned equipment from private sellers.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo