Allentown, Pa.--U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) issued the following statement regarding President Trump's executive order reinstating a program that allows local police departments to obtain lifesaving federal equipment:
"I am pleased to see President Trump take this crucial step to ensure that our police officers have the tools they need to protect themselves and our communities from violent criminals and terrorists. Our police officers should be at least as well equipped as the criminals and terrorists who attack them.
"I am especially pleased to see that, like my Lifesaving Gear for Police Act, President Trump reversed President Obama's dangerous restrictions on the ability of local law enforcement to access lifesaving federal equipment, such as riot helmets, riot shields, and armored vehicles. As we saw during the San Bernardino and Orlando terror attacks when the police used armored vehicles in their response, these items are vital to protecting law enforcement and civilians."
In May 2015, President Obama issued a directive that restricted local police from obtaining certain lifesaving federal gear, and in 2016, the Obama Administration began seizing equipment from local police departments.
Disturbingly, many of the restricted items are purely defensive, such as "riot helmets" and "riot shields"--items vital to protecting law enforcement during riots, where protesters have been known to torch cars and hurl bricks, cement blocks, and glass bottles at police. The directive also restricted armored vehicles, which were vital to rescuing hostages from an Orlando night club during the terror attack of June 2016.
The Obama Administration acknowledged that depriving local police of this gear "can have life-threatening consequences, both for the law enforcement personnel and the public," but concluded it was more important to preserve "community trust."
Sen. Toomey wrote a letter to President Obama the same week in May 2015, urging him to reconsider his decision to restrict access to this lifesaving equipment. You can read that letter here: https://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=news&id=1539.
In 2016 and 2017, Sen. Toomey introduced the Lifesaving Gear for Police Act, a bill that reverses President Obama's dangerous restrictions, and requires the executive branch to return gear that has been seized from local police departments.
Sen. Toomey's legislation was endorsed by:
• Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
• Fraternal Order of Police
• Int'l Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
• National Association of Police Organizations
• National Sheriffs' Association
• Sgts. Benevolent Association of New York City