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Trump revives the militarization of police departments

With Thanksgiving and Christmas season around the corner people everywhere are preparing for all holidays entail. The year is winding down and for many people things are calming down.

However, for some individuals a calm nation is a boring nation. This has led to the exaggeration of current events and crimes by interested individuals and the media; this in turn has caused the general public to be overtaken by concern, and with a president who believes the same, the truth can sometimes be lost in the misconstrued perception.

Everybody in the US wants a safe nation, but how far do we actually have to go to achieve an adequate level of safety? And why would anybody want to misrepresent crime rates in the US?

A 2016 Gallup poll revealed that over 50 percent of surveyed individuals were worried about crime and unrest in the U.S., an all-time high in the past 15 years. However, studies like the one performed by the Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank,” shows that crime rates have actually been on a steady decline for the past 20 years.

Why then, if crime is lower now that in the past 20 years, does our government feel the need to further militarize the police in several towns and cities in the U.S.? Although it did not receive much attention, earlier this year President Trump signed an executive order rescinding former President Obama’s amendments to the U.S. Government’s Defense Logistics Agency’s 1033 program, which basically led to the remilitarization of U.S. police departments.

The 1033 program, which was signed into law by former President Clinton on Sept. 23, 1996, aimed to transfer excess military property to law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The program allowed for the repurpose and reuse of equipment that ranged from clothing and office supplies to armored vehicles, weaponized aircrafts and firearms.

The program went largely unnoticed until the Ferguson riots of 2015 finally brought the militarization of police departments into the national spotlight. This led the Obama Administration to restrict the transfer of some military hardware to police as part of the 1033 program. Items like “grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets, and [large] guns,” which had been proven to have the greatest risk for misuse or overuse, were no longer available to police.

With Trump’s decision to lift the limits on the transfer of selected military equipment to police, the attorney general’s obsession with the failed drug war, and President Trump’s past statements that almost seemed to endorse police brutality, some people believe that arming police with military grade weapons and vehicles might put individual’s civil rights in danger.

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