COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - President Donald Trump is taking steps to remove restrictions on the transfer of military surplus vehicles and weapons to the nation's law enforcement agencies.
The move is already being applauded by state and local police including the Richland County Sheriff's Department. The decision announced Monday morning by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would rescind limits imposed under President Obama in the wake of 2014's civil disturbances in Ferguson, MO.
By executive order, Obama curtailed parts of the Department of Defense's 1033 program, approved by Congress in 1990.
The program was originally created as part of the federal government's drug enforcement effort but later expanded to provide local law enforcement agencies with billions of dollars in military surplus equipment.
That equipment included weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, riot gear, aircraft, and computers.
But after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the street violence that followed in Ferguson, civil rights activists criticized the 1033 program for creating overly militarized police forces.
The Obama administration recalled some equipment, including tracked armored vehicles, guns, and ammunition of .50 caliber or more and grenade launchers.
The order forced Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott to give up an armored personnel carrier dubbed "The Peacemaker."
Lott said the vehicle was needed to protect deputies, possibly in a hostage situation.
He also said the personnel carrier was a valuable public relations tool and saves taxpayer dollars. Speaking to a meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Sessions said the Obama restrictions "went too far."
Sessions and then-candidate Trump promised during the presidential campaign to restore the 1033 program in its entirety. The FOP endorsed Trump.