President Obama bans military-style equipment to local police departments

Donald Sawyer

President Obama today will ban the federal government from providing certain types of military-style equipment to local police departments and restrict the availability of others.

"I think the President's ban is a step in the right direction," said Don Sawyer, an assistant professor of sociology. "It will only be symbolic, however, if other programs and policies are not put in place to ease community-police tensions. I was happy to read of his visit to Camden, N.J. and other planned initiatives for increased training in community policing. When I played organized sports and practiced martial arts, I was always told 'you play how you practice.' If law enforcement has training that is focused on military tactics and the use of force that is what they will resort to in encounters with community unrest. However, if the principles of community policing dominate training, officers will practice more de-escalating methods of policing. Getting equipment like armored vehicles that run on a tracked system instead of wheels, weaponized aircraft or vehicles, firearms or ammunition of .50-caliber or higher, grenade launchers, bayonets and camouflage uniforms out of departments that are sworn to serve and protect is a good move. I have members of law enforcement agencies throughout my family and I know how difficult their jobs are and that they believe in what they do. I know they put their lives on the line every day they put on the uniform. I also think we can be concerned about the safety of officers without giving them equipment designed for war zones. The line between police and military should not be blurred." 

Sawyer holds a doctorate in sociology from Syracuse University. He also has a master's degrees in sociology and education Syracuse and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Hartwick College. He teaches Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of Race, Sociology of Education, and Sociology of Hip-Hop Culture. 

If you're interested in speaking to Sawyer, please contact John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-582-5359 (office) and 203-206-4449 (cell).

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