The White House is defending federal programs that equip local police departments with military gear but called for new standards to guide them, amid criticism that the programs “militarize'' the police and added to tensions in Ferguson, Mo., the Wall Street Journal reports. President Obama said more transparency and consistency is needed to ensure that police use the equipment safely.
The president is asking Congress to fund body-worn cameras and other community policing initiatives at a three-year cost of $263 million. Of that amount, $75 million would be used to buy as many as 50,000 of the cameras, which record police actions. Obama said events in Ferguson had laid bare “a simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color.” The president plans to create a task force on policing, which will look at ways to reduce crime while building public trust. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor at George Mason University and a former assistant attorney general, will lead it.