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Monday, May 18, 2015

New Rules On Federal Military Gear Won't Impact SAPD

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 3:36 PM

click to enlarge Police equipped in riot gear. - VIA FLICKR USER ALISON KLEIN, WEBN NEWS
  • Via Flickr user Alison Klein, WEBN News
  • Police equipped in riot gear.

The Obama administration announced today that it will ban the transfer of some federal military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies. But the actions will have little affect on the San Antonio Police Department.

The ban comes at the recommendation of a task force the president organized in January to assess how local law enforcement used equipment procured from the federal government.

Sgt. Javier Salazar, an SAPD public information officer, said that the new regulations won’t impact the department. Though SAPD has received some equipment from the federal government, none of it is included in the ban, Salazar told the San Antonio Current.

“I don’t see this have any effect on us,” Salazar said. “We’re not expecting it to have any adverse effect."

Under the new rules, the federal government can no longer transfer the following items to local law enforcement agencies:

-Tracked armored vehicles

-Weaponized aircraft or vessels

-.50-caliber firearms and ammunition

-Grenade launchers


-Camouflage uniforms

Other items, such as Humvees, riot shields, and battering rams, can only be obtained by law enforcement agencies that submit “a detailed justification outlining their need for procuring the equipment and certification that agency controls...are in place to prevent misuse of the equipment.”

Salazar said the department has received items from the feds such as pieces of exercise equipment, storage containers, cold weather gear, and a flat screen television. A 2014 open records request by the Current revealed that SAPD also received gloves, magazine holders, knives, backpacks, and a bomb-defusing robot from the federal government.

The task force said in its report that recently, “community members, [law enforcement agency] leaders, civil rights advocates, and elected leaders have voiced concerns about...the “militarization of law enforcement,” specifically citing the reaction to riots in Ferguson, Mo. 

It devised the list of banned items by balancing “the law enforcement need and utility for the equipment with the potential negative impact on the community if the equipment was used arbitrarily or inappropriately.”

The recommendations do not preclude law enforcement agencies from purchasing any of the listed items on their own — they just can’t receive them from the federal government.

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