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How Executive Order 13688 jeopardizes police officer safety

Executive Order 13688, issued in January 2015, effectively ended federal support for the local equipment acquisition program known as the 1033 program


Law enforcement officials with armored vehicles search an area near where police stopped a suspect SUV in San Bernardino, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

The “Militarization of Law Enforcement” is a movement that has swept the liberal left and President Obama has embraced their advocacy to take from SWAT teams the tools that keep citizens safe. The president set forth a plan to eliminate the lending program that has provided thousands of cop’s safe passage in and out of dangerous incidents.

Executive Order 13688 was issued in January 2015, effectively ending the federal support for the local equipment acquisition initiative known as the 1033 program. The executive order prohibited the use of tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, vessels and vehicles of any kind, firearms of .50 caliber or higher, ammunition, and grenade launchers.

Furthermore, it prohibits any federal funding for those items. Armored wheeled vehicles (MRAPS), HMMWV’s and Command vehicles will now be tightly controlled and regulated.

All About Ferguson
The 50-page executive order is filled with regulations, procedures, and requirements with a clear intent to rid American law enforcement with the tactical equipment its own nonmilitary law enforcement agencies use.

This order mandated that most acquired federal and military equipment, such as tactical vehicles and weapons, be returned to the federal government. The executive order recognized the program was initiated to improve law enforcement response to their communities.

However, it then concluded that the use of such equipment at the protests in Ferguson — such as law enforcement officers riding on top of military style vehicles, wearing military style uniforms, and equipped with military-style weapons — was inappropriate.

This executive order issued by the president also tightly controls riot batons, helmets and shields. The order indicated this is due to the “lethal nature of the equipment and/or the potential negative impact on the community.”

Terrorism is on the Rise
Since the president issued executive order 13688 in January of 2015 a spike in terrorism is evident. This is no surprise as his soft military policies mirror this recent executive order. Terrorist attacks are increasing as the president admittedly sounds off about gun control in this country.

1. May 3, 2015, Garland, Texas — A Islamist terrorist attack was thwarted as both attackers were shot and killed by law enforcement before they had the opportunity to carry out their attack at a public gathering.
2. June 17, 2015, Charleston, S.C. — A domestic terrorist killed nine people while attending church.
3. July 16, 2015, Chattanooga, Tenn. — An Islamist terrorist killed four Marines and a Navy Sailor at a recruiting station, the gunman was killed by responding police.
4. Nov. 4, 2015, University of California, Merced — Two students and two staff members were stabbed by a man inspired by the Islamic State group. He was later killed by police.
5. Nov. 27, 2015, Colorado Springs, Colo. — A domestic terrorist killed two civilians and a police officer at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
6. Dec. 2, 2015, San Bernardino, Calif. — Two terrorists, who embraced radical Islamic ideology, killed 14 people and injured 21 others at an employee holidayparty. Both terrorists were later killed by police.
7. Jan. 7, 2015, Philadelphia, Penn. — A man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group shot a police officer sitting in his marked patrol car.

Armored Vehicles Keep Cops Safe
The San Bernardino terrorist attacks should provide the liberal anti-cop advocate enough logical evidence that armored vehicles are a necessity in American law enforcement arsenals. Several armored vehicles played a pivotal role as cops were engaged in a rolling shoot out with the terrorists in the neighborhood streets filled with civilian onlookers.

The terrorists armed with as they say “military rifles” were stopped and boxed in by armored clad vehicles allowing cops to safely engage and neutralize them without further loss of life.

Ditch the Feds
The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan has benefited from the 1033 program since its early days. Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told the Detroit Free Press regarding the agencies tracked vehicle “It really upsets me. We have a great asset. We have not abused it, and in just a blanket order we can no longer have it.”

The agency has used the armored vehicle for its SWAT team since 2004. “Look what’s happening around the country — mass shootings, barricaded gunman. An armored vehicle gives law enforcement the upper hand,” Wickersham said.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said after the mass shooting in California he heard Obama say on the radio that there are ways to make America safer. Hackel said if Obama wanted to make first responders safer “first thing tomorrow morning rescind that order.”

The same Detroit Free Press article reports that the Oakland County, Michigan Sheriff Michael Bouchard stated “this administration has done an about-face on supporting law enforcement. As a result America is less prepared for a variety of situations like the attacks in Paris.” Bouchard also stated that “we’re actually taking away a proven asset from law enforcement all over the country, destroying on many levels our ability to handle a very big situation, any situation like Paris, those are going to be handled by the local police and this is the type of equipment needed.”

The Oakland and Macomb County sheriffs departments, located in suburban Detroit, have since purchased or funded an armored vehicle from a civilian manufacturer. The purchase price starts around $300,000 and averages about $350,000. This steep price will unfortunately leave the poorer communities that the president allegedly champions, without such armored vehicles as they most likely will be unable to afford a civilian version.

What is Reality?
I’ve spent a lot of years serving on various tactical teams. I can certainly understand the shock a civilian may have when they see such a vehicle traveling their streets. I can also assure those same citizens that the cops in the vehicles would rather not have to respond to such a violent incident that would require the use of an armored vehicle. I have used several wheeled and tracked armored vehicles during my SWAT tenure.

These vehicles were never used to harm a citizen. They are not armed with any weapon systems and don’t have the capability of harming people. I have never witnessed an armored vehicle being misused in person, nor have I seen a legitimate news story substantiating such a misdeed.

So what’s the nucleus of this fear from some citizens of cops deploying in armored vehicles? If these same people were cops for a day what vehicle would they choose while chasing the Islamist terrorist who is shooting (wait for it) military-style weapons in San Bernardino? I doubt if any of them are brave enough to charge at the shooting terrorist in a squad car over an armored vehicle.

Glenn French, a retired Sergeant with the Sterling Heights (Mich.) Police Department, has 24 years police experience and served as the Team Commander for the Special Response Team, and supervisor of the Sterling Heights Police Department Training Bureau. He has 16 years SWAT experience and also served as a Sniper Team Leader, REACT Team Leader, and Explosive Breacher.

Contact Glenn French.