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Trump will ease restrictions on military gear for local police

Trump will ease restrictions on military gear for local police

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Updated August 28, 2017 10:14 AM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that President Trump will lift restrictions on the transfer of surplus military gear to local police.

Sessions made the announcement while addressing the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee.

President Trump is preparing to ease restrictions on surplus military equipment going to local law enforcement agencies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

AP reported Monday that the documents indicate that Trump is preparing to sign an executive order removing a directive from former President Barack Obama’s administration on the issue.

Obama’s directive restricted police agencies’ access to ammunition, bullet-proof vests, firearms, grenade launchers, riot shields, and other surplus military equipment.

Trump’s order would fully revitalize the program despite past concerns such gear is escalating confrontations between authorities and protesters.

“Assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime,” the documents say.

A person familiar with the matter told AP Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could outline the changes that day during a speech.

Sessions is scheduled to address the Fraternal Order of Police’s (FOP) national conference in Nashville.

Trump and Sessions have vowed to implement a law and order agenda, in part by driving down violent crime through federal support for local police agencies.

Obama issued an executive order in 2015 that significantly limited the surplus program and much of the equipment in it.

The order prohibited the federal government from providing ammunition and firearms of .50-caliber or greater to police.

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Obama’s directive also made similar bans on grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles and weaponized aircraft and vehicles.

Trump vowed to rescind Obama’s order in a written response to a FOP questionnaire during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The FOP ultimately endorsed Trump last year, giving his election efforts a major boost from its membership of rank-and-file police officers.

Obama’s order on military gear was partially inspired by the use of such equipment during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the year before.

Protests erupted in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, in an officer-involved shooting.

Police responded to the unrest in riot gear while also deploying armored vehicles, dogs and tear gas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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