Reality Check: Do Local Police Need Grenade Launchers?Ben Swann takes a look at complaints by local law enforcement who are being order to return military equipment to the Department of Defense Learn more: bit.ly/1MVuCsm Posted by Ben Swann on Wednesday, December 23, 2015
For the first time, the federal government is actually recalling military equipment that was granted to local law enforcement.
Some agencies, including right here in Georgia, are angry. But do local police need to be so heavily militarized?
This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.
“I cannot believe this is the United States of America, I thought America is free, not corruption and lies. I cannot believe it.”
This is the father of a child known as “Baby Bou Bou” responding to the news that a Habersham County sheriff’s deputy was found not guilty on four civil rights violations.
That sheriff’s deputy was accused of lying to a judge in order to get a narcotics warrant used by a SWAT team that raided the house where Baby Bou Bou and his family were staying. They threw a flash bang through the window and blew a hole in that child’s chest and face.
The SWAT team was doing what SWAT teams across the nation do every day, many times using military tactics and military equipment.
“This is not fair and we will not stop fighting -- for my son, my husband, and my children deserve that justice, and we will get it. I guarantee you this fight is not over,” said the mother of Baby Bou Bou.
An executive order signed by President Barack Obama back in May, which went into effect October 1 of this year, was aimed at de-militarizing law enforcement agencies across the nation.
But it is also angering police departments.
Take, for instance, a sheriff’s department right here in Georgia.
Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman, whose department had to return an armored personnel carrier, said, “It takes a layer of protection away from my deputies. There are nuts out there with weapons they shouldn’t have and my deputies have to go up against these people every day. It limits us. It puts us at a disadvantage.”
Other sheriffs are joining Chapman, angry at the crackdown on military equipment.
But the question must be asked—in a day when terror attacks on U.S. soil are a reality, is Washington tying the hands of law enforcement?
Under the Department of Defense 1033 Program, billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment has been granted to local law enforcement. Under this executive order, what is not going to be allowed anymore?
Let’s talk about that.
Seven categories of items fall under the newly prohibited umbrella: tracked armored vehicles; weaponized aircraft, vessels, and vehicles of any kind; firearms of .50-caliber or higher; ammunition of .50-caliber or higher; grenade launchers, bayonets, and camouflage uniforms.
Why any local police department would need a grenade launcher is beyond me. But let’s talk about armored vehicles. Those are helpful in the event of a dangerous situation, are they not?
Maybe so, but Reality Check here— rarely is any of this equipment used to combat terrorism. And it’s also not just kept off to the side until something truly dangerous happens.
In fact, the most common use of this equipment is by SWAT teams in order to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
These raids have become increasingly frequent with as many as 40,000 occurring per year.
So what you need to know is that while there is very good equipment that comes from the 1033 program—things like blankets and vests for officers.
But on these other issues, the question shouldn’t just be asked, why would a police department need a grenade launcher?
We also need to ask, what about the way police officers are trained? Are they trained as peace officers, or like soldiers? Because the streets of Atlanta and cities across America are not war zones.
We shouldn’t allow them to be outfitted like they are.
Editor's note: This segment of Ben Swann's reality check was originally shared on Truth in Media, the text of which may have been modified slightly for publication on IVN.