President Trump recently reversed an Obama-era order and is giving police departments access to surplus U.S. military equipment.
Some critics say the optics of police officers armed with military weapons could prove unnecessarily intimidating, especially if law enforcement is facing a crowd of unarmed protesters.
“I don’t think there’s any community member that would look sideways at an officer (with military equipment) who was under attack by a heavily-armed suspect.” — Detroit Police Chief James Craig
But the head of the Detroit Police Department is applauding the move.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig says the additional arms and equipment could help both his officers and members of the public survive in dangerous situations.
Craig has noted that police officers in Detroit are woefully underpaid compared to their counterparts in other jurisdictions.
Yet he says Detroit police deal so frequently with hardcore criminal activity that their experience makes them a valued commodity other law enforcement agencies hope to lure to their city.
Craig says he does draw the line at using certain military items.
“I’m not a supporter of tanks with track wheels,” Craig says. “They wouldn’t have any place in urban policing. However armored-style vehicles have and are used at every police department I’ve ever worked including the Detroit Police Department.”
Craig says he understands that some community members might be intimidated by police armed with military weapons.
But the Craig says he believes citizens will understand the importance of police not being outgunned in dangerous situations
“I don’t think there’s any community member that would look sideways at an officer who was under attack by a heavily-armed suspect. They would want you to be able to address that threat with equal strength. But again we recognize that we are a community-based police agency centered on trust. That matters to us,” Craig says.
Craig tells WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter that similar circumstances erupted when the Chief was a member of the police force in Los Angeles.