jump to example.com

Lisa Rosenberg: Militarizing police under a cloak of secrecy

In a move that will further militarize police departments across the country while decreasing accountability, President Trump issued an executive order that strips away limits on weapons of war that the Defense Department can hand over to state and local police forces.

donald trumpThe President’s order expands an existing Pentagon program that authorizes the transfer of military-grade tactical weapons, surveillance equipment and vehicles to civilian police departments, eliminating restrictions on the types of weapons that can be transferred and vastly reducing oversight of the program.

The weapons program became notorious when police fitted with battle gear were photographed pointing assault weapons at protesters in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. After the images went viral, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order that placed restrictions on the program and established reporting, oversight and training requirements for law enforcement agencies requesting the military equipment. The Obama-era order prohibited weapons like bayonets and grenade-launchers from being transferred to local law enforcement. Reversing the ban, the Trump order places weapons designed to be used by soldiers on battlefields in the hands of police, opening the door to intimidation and abuse of civilians which could result in a chilling effect on public dissent and protest.

At the same time, abuses will be harder to detect. The President’s executive order will scrap minimal transparency requirements that had applied to the already secretive program, leaving the public in the dark about dangerous weaponry flowing into their communities.  It took a strategic campaign by journalists and open government advocates to pry information from the Pentagon and local police departments to get basic figures on the amount and type of equipment that local police and sheriffs received, exposing just how prevalent the program is across the country. Now, even those minimal accountability measures have been stripped away.

Contrary to the administration’s claims that the program will make us safer, expanding the weapons transfers while reducing accountability exacerbates the threat to public safety. Just last month, a government watchdog agency released a shocking assessment of the Pentagon program, exposing how easy it is for military weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Posing as a fake law enforcement agency, investigators requested and received over a million dollars in rifles, pipe bomb equipment, and night vision goggles after the Defense Department failed to verify the identity of individuals receiving the equipment. By expanding the program and decreasing safeguards to prevent abuse, the President increases the likelihood that dangerous weapons could fall into the hands of individuals who intend to do us harm.

It now falls to Congress to push back against the creeping authoritarianism evidenced by the President’s decision to further militarize law enforcement while shackling oversight. To preempt this administration’s misguided actions, Congress must, at a minimum, assert its oversight authority and put in place requirements to ensure that if any transfers are permitted, they are subject to transparency mandates and that the Pentagon and police departments remain accountable to the public.

Lisa Rosenberg is the executive director of OpenTheGovernment, a nonpartisan coalition advancing transparency for accountability

   
Discussion
 
Highlights

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

   
Recent Posts
   
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.