Tanks and military-grade weapons recalled by federal government in 2014 but Republican nominee tells Ohio meeting he would return military equipment
Donald Trump said on Monday that, if elected president, he would give back to police departments the controversial military equipment the Obama administration forced them to return.
Speaking with police officers in Ohio, the Republican presidential nominee indicated he would reverse a recall of tanks, heavy weaponry and other equipment carried out by the federal government after the 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
During discussions at a fraternal order of police lodge in Akron, Trump was asked by one questioner if he would return military equipment to law enforcement, according to a pool reporter who observed the event.
Yes, I would, said Trump, who added that the current situation facing law enforcement was ridiculous.
In May last year, Barack Obama banned the transfer of some surplus military equipment from the US defense department to regional police departments. Millions of dollars worth of gear was transferred under a longstanding program not widely noticed until heavily armored police clashed with protesters in Ferguson.
Obamas prohibition applied to items such as grenade launchers, armored vehicles and large-caliber weapons. Police departments have remained free to buy the equipment commercially but chiefs say they are deterred by high prices.
Some departments complained after receiving notices from the Obama administration recalling vehicles and other equipment. Police leaders said that following the fatal shooting of officers in Dallas, Texas, in July, the Obama administration had agreed to revisit its executive order and consider taking some items off its banned list.
Trump has wrapped himself in the mantle of law enforcement in recent months and proclaimed himself to be the law and order candidate in his acceptance speech at the Republican national convention.
The Republican nominee has repeatedly warned of a recent uptick in violent crime and has voiced opposition to criminal justice reform proposals. In a speech in Florida in August, Trump condemned Obama for commuting the sentences of non-violent drug offenders.
Some of these people are bad dudes. These are people out walking the streets. Sleep tight, folks, Trump warned. In a tweet in July, Trump compared the US to a divided crime scene.
The New York real estate developer has long taken a draconian view of law and order. In 1989, Trump ran newspaper advertisements relating to the infamous Central Park Five case, in which five teenagers were wrongfully convicted of rape. The ads blared: BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY.
In December 2015, Trump promised that, if elected, he would change the law to make the death penalty mandatory for those convicted of killing a police officer. Any laws imposing a mandatory death penalty would, however, be unconstitutional under the supreme courts 1976 decision in Gregg v Georgia.
Trump did, however, tell the Guardian in an interview last year that he supported federal funding for police body cameras.