WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government will stop sending grenade launchers, weapons mounted on airplanes, and some other types of military gear to local police under new rules approved by President Barack Obama. Other types of equipment will be provided only under tighter controls.
The ban comes months after the nation watched images of police dressed in camouflage and riot gear dispelling racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Equipment that was banned and why:
—Armored vehicles that move on tracks instead of wheels. Their military appearance intimidates civilians; other vehicles can meet police needs.
—Weaponized aircraft, ships or vehicles. Police departments won't be able to purchase vehicles with weapons installed on them from the government.
—.50-caliber or higher ammunition and firearms. These weapons typically used by the military are highly destructive and can penetrate buildings.
—Grenade launchers. Police sometimes use them to launch tear gas, but other devices can do the job.
—Bayonets. These large knives attached to rifles for hand-to-hand combat aren't necessary for police work.
—Camouflage uniforms. Police wearing forest camouflage in the city appear unnecessarily militaristic. Federal programs will still be allowed to provide woodland or desert camouflage for law enforcement missions where they are needed, such as woodland camouflage for officers eradicating illegal drug crops in a forested area.
Beginning in October, the federal government will sell or provide some equipment to police only under tighter controls, requiring the approval of a local governing body and an explanation of why it's needed.
That equipment includes:
—Airplanes, helicopters and drones.
—Wheeled armored vehicles, such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, that protect the officers inside.
—Wheeled tactical vehicles, such as Humvees and 5-ton trucks. Law officers use them to travel over rough terrain, during weather emergencies and for search-and-rescue missions.
—Command and control vehicles. Their enhanced communications equipment helps direct the response to a big incident or emergency.
—Firearms and ammunition under .50-caliber for specialized operations or assignments. Service weapons that are issued by departments for regular duty don't follow under the new restrictions.
—Explosives and pyrotechnics. Includes "flash bangs" and other tools used by special operations units.
—Breaching apparatus. Battering rams, explosives and other tools used to break through a door to rush into a building.
—Riot helmets, riot shields and extra-large riot batons. The regular batons carried by police aren't affected.