Jolted by images of protesters clashing with heavily armed police officers in Missouri, President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-grade body armor, mine-resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles, senior officials say.

The White House-led review will consider whether the government should continue providing such equipment and, if so, whether local authorities have sufficient training to use it appropriately, said senior administration and law enforcement officials. The government will also consider whether it is keeping a close enough watch on equipment inventories, and how the weapons and other gear are used.

The review, coupled with proposed legislation and planned congressional hearings, opens the possibility for significant changes in Washington’s approach to arming local law enforcement agencies. Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government regarded the police as the frontline forces in a new war. While that role for local law enforcement is expected to remain, changes may be ordered to the system under which federal grants and a military surplus program have sent gear and money to police departments, often with no strings attached, to prepare for a terrorist attack.

Read it at NY Times.