July 22, 2016
Because of the recent murders of several police officers, and in spite of past public outcry, the 2015 ban on military equipment being given to police departments is being reconsidered by President Obama.
The ban includes items from surplus military such as riot gear and armored vehicles, confirmed a White House official on Thursday.
“As the recommendations provide for, we review the program regularly with law enforcement and civil rights groups to ensure that it is achieving its goals.”
It was this very gear that caused so much public uproar when the police in cities like Ferguson showed up in full-on riot gear, heavy artillery and armored vehicles to help control the crowds during police brutality protests.
A major study topic is being done at the University of California, Berkeley, The Deciding Force Project. This study’s intention is to help find factors that turn peaceful protests into violent protesters.
The lead researcher of the project, Nick Adams, began the project when he witnessed the intense clash between the police and protesters.
“We’re finding police have a lot of capacity to set a tone. When police show up in riot gear you get a different kind of interaction than when they show up in their regular uniforms,” Adams stated. “These things end up being provocative to a crowd of people not used to fighting.”
The study shows that violence increases considerably when police don riot gear. The recent shooting of police officers, however, has given Obama and many police departments reason to revisit the ban.
On July 11, three days after five police officers in Dallas were killed, eight police organization leaders met with Obama and VP Joe Biden to discuss military gear. A week later three more officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As protests and protesters continue to grow both in number and intensity there can be no doubt that police need to protect themselves. But is riot-gear the answer?
“Denver’s police chief doesn’t believe riot gear is warranted in most situations, and said police would continue to monitor demonstrations as they always have — with officers in their regular blue uniforms,” writes The Denver Post.
In a poll taken by The Denver Post, citizens were asked if riot gear should or should not be worn by police officers and the results may surprise you.
Clearly citizens, in this poll, are worried about the safety of police officers and rightfully so.
Still, the research shows that riot gear strikes fear and escalates violence. But, Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, stated “The White House thought this kind of gear was intimidating to people, but they didn’t know the purpose it serves.”
Americans responded positively to the new poll regardless of past negativity toward military gear. Time will tell if Americans riot-gear favoritism continues.