WASHINGTON (AP) — Calling for a sharp separation between the nation’s armed forces and local police, President Barack Obama on Monday urged a re-examination of programs that have equipped civilian law enforcement departments with military gear from the Pentagon.
The transfers have come under public scrutiny after the forceful police response to racially charged unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Amid video images of well-armed police confronting protesters with combat weapons and other surplus military equipment, Obama said it would be useful to review how local law enforcement agencies have used federal grants that permit them to obtain heavier armaments.
‘‘There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,’’ Obama told reporters at the White House. ‘‘That would be contrary to our traditions.’’
Obama’s remarks came as he called for understanding in the face of anger in Ferguson in the wake of a police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man. Obama said the vast majority of protesters in the St. Louis suburb were peaceful, but said that a small minority was undermining justice for the shooting victim, Michael Brown.
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