The Fraternal Order of Police, the country's largest police union representing more than 330,00 men and women in uniform, is slamming the Obama administration for jeopardizing the safety of police officers in the name of politics or politically correct optics. More from POLITICO:
The nation’s largest police union is fighting back against a White House plan to restrict local police forces’ ability to acquire military-style gear, accusing President Barack Obama’s task force of politicizing officers’ safety.
The White House on Monday announced that bayonets, weaponized vehicles and grenade launchers will no longer be available to local police and that other equipment such as riot gear and other types of armored vehicles would be subject to a more onerous approval process.
James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told POLITICO on Monday that he hopes to have a White House meeting as soon as Tuesday to discuss his concerns about how the plans could put cops at risk.
“The FOP is the most aggressive law enforcement advocacy group in Washington, and we will be at our most aggressive in asserting the need for officer safety and officer rights in any police changes that are to be effected,” Pasco said.
He said in particular he objects to a measure that would require police departments to get permission from city governments to acquire certain equipment, including riot batons, helmets and shields, through federal programs.
“We need to only look back to Baltimore to see what happens when officers are sent out ill-equipped in a disturbance situation,” he said. “Because you don’t like the optics, you can’t send police officers out to be hurt or killed.”
As noted in the POLITICO piece, the Obama administration announced yesterday the President has restricted the type of equipment available for use by local police departments via executive order.
The Obama administration on Monday moved to prohibit federal agencies from providing local cops with certain kinds of military equipment such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and bayonets, in the wake of controversy over a "militarized" police response to unrest last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The new prohibitions are part of an executive order President Barack Obama issued for federal agencies to review the types of equipment they provide to local and state police.
"We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them," Obama said in Camden Monday. "It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message."
FOP has been a long-time critic of the Obama administration. When President Obama nominated cop killer advocate and race baiter Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the same division that brings lawsuits against police officers, FOP sent a scathing letter directly to President Obama condemning the nomination.
Earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing addressing the issue of policing in the modern era and about how to restore trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
"Policing is an inherently dangerous job. Our law enforcement officers deserve our gratitude for the work they do on a daily basis to make sure that our streets are safe, the most helpless in our communities are protected, and those who commit crimes are brought to justice. I am very concerned that force is used appropriately and that police officers are taking appropriate steps to protect innocent civilians when they make encounters. There is increasing unrest in our urban communities about policing. Protests in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore were the outgrowth of the use of force by police officers stopping a suspect. Although no charges were filed against the officers-in-question in two of those cases, it is clear that there is widespread disagreement about the actions of police in those instances. What started as peaceful protests, turned into violent riots, where again, the police reaction to those riots was brought into question," Chairman Bob Goodlatte said in his opening statement. "At the same time, I am increasingly concerned with the repeated targeting of our police and law enforcement personnel. Last week we learned that two more police officers were killed. Officers Deen and Tate, responding to a routine traffic stop in Hattiesburg, Mississippi were gunned down by a group of five men. This comes on the heels of the more widely known murders of Officers Ramos and Liu in New York. It’s been reported that they were specifically targeted by a man looking to kill a police officer."
Meanwhile former FBI assistant director and President of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund Ron Hosko, who has also been a public critic of the Obama administration's stance toward law enforcement, is slamming Baltimore prosecutor Marlyn Mosby for recently overcharging six officers in the death of Freddie Grey. He also warned against using police as "political punching bags."
"Mosby's lack of judgment in this matter cannot be ignored. Given her strident public statements promising justice for the Gray family, with no mention of justice for the accused, one would expect early motions for a change of venue for any trial. Already, defense requests to examine the knife possessed by Gray have been rebuffed, which will only make the issue grow rather than dissipate," Hosko wrote in an op-ed today. "Whatever the outcome of the Baltimore trial, it's important to remember that the vast majority of police officers are hardworking men and women who are dedicated to serving the public. We cannot allow our police to become political punching bags, targets for political opportunists who often generate unwarranted criticism of the people who report for a difficult and dangerous job."
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