Following a previous report by USA Today on Sunday suggesting as much, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump will soon sign a new executive order lifting the ban on military gear for police previously instituted by President Barack Obama’s administration. While addressing attendees at the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, Sessions delivered a 20-minute speech peppered with several bouts of applause that pinpointed the president’s intention regarding Obama’s 2015 executive order and the 2014 study that preceded it. Here’s what Sessions said:
“I am here to announce that President Trump is issuing an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities. He is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies’ ability to get equipment through federal programs, including life saving gear like Kevlar vests and helmets and first responder and rescue equipment like what they’re using in Texas right now.”
Chief among the new executive order’s concerns is the 1033 program — a major part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 signed into law by President George H.W. Bush and later reauthorized by President Bill Clinton — which recycled “used gear and equipment that tax payers had already purchased.” Obama didn’t cut the program entirely in 2015, but he did curtail portions of it that allowed police departments to acquire things like grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and weaponized aircraft in light of the massive protests that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown and others.
Even so, Sessions argued Obama’s restrictions “went too far” at the time. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety,” he continued. “All you need to do is turn on a TV right now to see that for Houstonians this isn’t about appearances, its about getting the job done and getting everyone to safety.” You can read the attorney general’s prepared remarks here, and view his full 20-minute speech here.