TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Police departments will once again be able to purchase or receive free surplus military equipment after President Trump over turned a ban on some equipment put in place by President Obama following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri three years ago.
Civil rights groups opposed the move saying the appearance of militarization of police can oftentimes lead to violence.
There are still some restrictions on items such as tanks, but now police forces will have the capability of receiving high powered rifles, such as M-16's and grenade launchers.
In announcing the lifting of the restrictions, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "We will not put superficial concerns above public safety."
"Here we go again," said Michael Polakowski, a U of A PhD, who specializes in criminal justice. "There's got to be a national debate and we don't have that."
He says national leadership on the question of whether militarization creates more violence is needed but does not expect it from the current administration.
Polakowski says studies back him up that may very well be the case.
"Anytime you introduce military equipment into the equation, I think that ramps up the possibility for violent confrontation to occur," he said.
An interactive map shows many law enforcement jurisdictions in Arizona buy or receive surplus military equipment, but the Pima County Sheriff's Department says it should be used sparingly.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier issued this statement to KOLD News 13 on Monday afternoon, Aug. 28:
One reason given by local law enforcement is tight budgets preclude them from purchasing some of the equipment the need, like night goggles and other vehicles.
There's near unanimous agreement that police budgets are not what they should be especially when municipal budgets are overwhelmed.
"We do not fund our law enforcement very well," said Polakowski. "We need to do a better job of that."
But he questions whether that means law enforcement needs surplus M-16's and grenade launchers.