The plan would bring back "lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense" as well as restore the 'full scope of grants used to purchase this type of equipment from other sources, ' the summary read.
But after the Justice Department concluded that the use of military-style equipment made matters worse in Ferguson, President Obama put some equipment off limits - including tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, and grenade launchers - and required a showing of need for tactical vehicles with wheels.
"The new plan", explains USA Today's Kevin Johnson, "would roll back an Obama administration executive order that blocked armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, ammunition, and other heavy equipment from being re-purposed from foreign battlefields to America's streets".
However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that limiting local police departments' access to military equipment endangered officers' personal safety.
Helping law enforcement do their jobs, helping the police get better, and celebrating the noble, honorable, essential and challenging work of our law enforcement communities will always be a top priority of President Trump and this Department of Justice.
"You are the thin blue line that stands between law-abiding people and criminals, between sanctity and lawlessness", Sessions said to the FOP crowd in Nashville, channeling the "law and order" rhetoric that helped elevate Trump to the White House during the 2016 presidential campaign. Images of the police with sniper rifles on top of armored cars or wearing riot gear to watch over protests set off a debate about whether police departments had lost sight of their missions to serve and protect. More than $5 billion in surplus gear has been funneled to law enforcement agencies.
The distribution of the surplus military equipment to local police hit the headlines three years ago when Ferguson, Mo., erupted in violent protests after a policeman shot and killed an unarmed black man, Michael Brown. However, as of December, at least 100 grenade launchers, 1,600 bayonets, and 126 tanklike vehicles had been recalled.
The program was expanded in 1997 to include all local law enforcement operations, including counter-terrorism. An Obama administration task force argued at the time that the "militarization" of police forces could "undermine civilian trust".
The move, which will see forces supplied with grenade launchers and an arsenal of other high powered weapons, is certain to reignite fears that U.S. police departments are being turned into paramilitary forces.
Trump's executive order said, "All executive departments and agencies are directed, as of the date of this order and consistent with Federal law, to cease implementing those recommendations and, if necessary, to take prompt action to rescind any rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing them". Fully a quarter of the 465 requests projected using the vehicles for drug enforcement.
"We've seen how militarized gear sometimes gives people a feeling like they are an occupying force as opposed to a part of the community there to protect them", Obama said during a speech in Camden, N.J.