Skip to main content

Most Americans Believe Cops Shouldn't Use Military Gear


A majority of Americans believe that local police officers' use of military-grade equipment and armored vehicles is “going too far,” according to a new report.

The libertarian-leaning Cato Institute and polling firm YouGov found that 54 percent of Americans are opposed to local police officers using equipment designed for soldiers in the battlefield. Forty-six percent said such equipment is “necessary for law enforcement purposes."

Along ethnic lines, the majority of whites (53 percent), blacks (58 percent), and Hispanics (51 percent) don't believe military equipment is necessary for local police officers.

But along partisan lines, there were stark differences.

Among Democrats and independents, 60 percent agreed that police officers shouldn't use equipment designed for war.

But 65 percent of Republicans believe they should.

A slight majority of working class Americans – 51 percent – believe that police should use military equipment, while 58 percent of people with a college degree disagreed.

The U.S. government has given free military equipment to local police departments for decades.

But in 2015, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to put restrictions on the controversial 1033 program after it garnered national attention due to St. Louis County police using armored vehicles and snipers in camouflage uniforms to confront protesters in Ferguson the previous year, according to the Associated Press.

William Ruger, vice president of policy and research at the Charles Koch Institute, which funds the Cato Institute, described Obama's order as "a decent start.”

"We don't want local police departments to be incentivized to get the types of equipment that in most cases are a better fit for the war zone," he said.

But President-elect Donald Trump is expected to remove that order.

"The 1033 program is an excellent program that enhances community safety,” Trump told the Fraternal Order of Police in a prepared response, reported the Associated Press. “I will rescind the current executive order.”

Sources: Cato Institute, Associated Press/ Photo Credit: Jamelle Bouie/Flickr

Popular Video