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President Barack Obama has ordered a review of federal programs and funding that allow state and local law enforcement to acquire military equipment — a concern following the use of such gear during the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Obama has directed that the review consider whether dissemination of the military guns and armor to local law enforcement agencies is appropriate, according to a senior White House official. The review will also analyze whether local officials are properly trained to use the weapons and whether the federal government properly audits the use of the supplies, the official said.
Local law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are eligible to receive surplus military equipment through the Defense Department’s 1033 program. But there was outrage after photos and videos taken in Ferguson over the past week showed officers on tanks brandishing military-style firearms during protests over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer. The review will be led by White House staff and relevant U.S. agencies — including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury — and will be carried out in coordination with Congress, the official said.
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— Kristen Welker and Elisha Fieldstadt