President Donald Trump lifted a ban this week that was put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama, at the height of his administration’s war on police. In response to a social justice outcry from people who didn’t like the images of tanks rolling in on Ferguson in 2014, Obama banned the delivery of surplus military supplies to local and state police agencies. Trump did away with the ban and immediately earned praise from several of the nation’s largest law enforcement groups.
“We applaud the president’s actions, and we are encouraged to see him acting on this important issue that we have vocally advocated for,” said the National Sheriffs’ Association in a statement. “Across the country we have seen how valuable this equipment has been to local law enforcement from San Bernardino to Orlando in fighting terrorism, but also by saving lives in floods in South Carolina and snow storms in North Dakota, just to name a few.”
The Fraternal Order of Police also came forward to applaud the president’s decision.
“The previous administration was more concerned about the image of law enforcement being too ‘militarized’ than they were about our safety,” said FOP’s national president, Chuck Canterbury.
While we agree with that sentiment – in fact, there’s no denying that the Obama administration was as anti-police as any administration in history – this isn’t as simple as blaming it all on the liberals. There are good arguments against the militarization of local police departments, and they are made by men who have the utmost respect for law enforcement. In fact, they are often made by men who have dedicated their entire lives to serving the public in uniform. So to make this out as a left vs. right thing doesn’t cover the entire picture.
Yes, we should make sure our police have the equipment they need to carry out their duties. No, every small police department in the country does not need a battalion of tanks and military-grade weaponry to enhance their drug raids. As always, we have to be careful about the line between our security and our liberty, and that line is being blurred in this instance.
When it comes to equipment like Kevlar vests and other defensive armor, there’s no doubt about it: We should do everything we can to make sure police have what they need, especially if the equipment is just going to sit in a warehouse somewhere if we don’t hand it out.
But when it comes to serious offensive weaponry, we need to, at the very least, proceed with caution.