President Trump clears path to give military weapons to local police

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the revival of a program which will provide police departments with military equipment.

This would include high caliber weapons, as well as armored vehicles.

"Sometimes there are unfortunate things that happen. Very serious things, where law enforcement needs serious instruments to conduct their business," said Linn Armstrong, Training Counselor at Grand Valley Shooting Sports.

However, there are Mesa County residents who believe this program is unnecessary.

"Most people don't want to live in a military state. We look at this as bringing in a lot of power. For what reason? We're not sure," said Scott Beilfuss, Board Member for the Mesa County Democrats.

When people ask why law enforcement would need access to this type of ammunition,

"Very often people say, 'Well cops don't need this, or police don't need that.' We don't know what they need at any given moment. At the same time, because of their training and experience, they may need to use those items. They will also need to communicate this to civilians effectively," said Armstrong.

Still, some believe that obtaining these items may do more damage than good.

"They are asking for more fire power. Everytime we go into a situation like this we're raising the bar on what people want access to. This includes what law enforcement may need to have access to in order to combat the general public," said Beilfuss.

Yet both sides say that the ultimate solution requires better communication and community relations.

"We have to trust law enforcement. In addition, law enforcement has to trust civilians out there are doing what they are supposed to do in a society that is supposed to live together," said Armstrong.

"Building relationships, boots on the ground, as well as more people working and getting to know their law enforcement. People in town also need to support them and call if they see something wrong. This is all more effective than rolling out big equipment," said Beilfuss.

Justice department officials say the documents summarizing the order describe much of the gear as "defensive in nature," intended to protect officers from danger.

They say while most police agencies rarely require military equipment for daily use, they do see a need to have it at least available.


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